The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Probation, Community Orders, and Fines

I think that I know what Ministers want, which is to offload work from court-based probation officers (and that will mean restricting community penalties) to free up people to improve parole supervision and, as a bonus, to increase the number of offences dealt with by way of a fine, dovetailing neatly with the enormous and continuing rise in the number of fixed penalty tickets as mentioned in the Sunday Telegraph. The Lord Chief Justice extolled the virtues of the fine at the Magistrates' Association conference last November. What he didn't mention was how to impose realistic fines when the vast majority of our defendants are on benefit.

By the way - and you read it here first - there is every chance that the Suspended Sentence Order will be taken out of JPs' armoury fairly soon. It is such a useful sentence, because we can combine it with community requirements as well, that we are making about 3000 of them every month according to His Lordship. That costs money to administer, and worse, there are two ways of breaching an SSO, either by reoffending or by breaching the community requirements. When we were stopped from imposing 'benders' a few years ago it was because too many were being breached through reoffending and thus implemented. I think that will happen again, even though I really hope it will not.