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.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Reforms - An Update

This is how the latest reforms are looking from the sharp end of what our administrators insist on calling a business:-

Conditional Cautions A slow start. One Thames Valley area managed to issue fewer than 45 of them in eighteen months. Given the investment in training police and CPS they must have cost a bomb. I have no idea if the conditions are being enforced. A London court area that brought these cautions in last November has imposed, at the last count, two of them.
Community Justice The concept is being 'rolled out' across the country. Charlie is as keen as can be. The model, as I have said before, will not be the gold-plated Liverpool one, where resources were thrown at it, but rather the cheaper Salford scheme, which courts are expected to implement without any extra funding. I have spoken to some of the JPs involved, and to be fair they are keen on what they are doing, but the aims are pretty limited, at least for now. Salford sits one 'community' court a week, adults in the morning and youth in the afternoon. It only deals with a part of the court's area. There is nothing wrong though with magistrates getting involved with the community - we already do it, but there is no harm in sharpening up our act a bit.
CJSSS Criminal Justice - Simple Speedy and Summary is currently flavour of the month. As with Community Justice there is no new money, but it is about agencies doing what they should have been doing all along. The pilots have worked well, but all of the judges and magistrates I have spoken to say the same thing - it's a great idea, but the CPS won't be able to hack it - and they are the key to the whole thing. At one meeting we were told that the CPS would have case files at court by 9.30 at the latest, and that the prosecutor would have read them The bench could then look through them before starting business. The room erupted with laughter.
Legal Aid is turning out as practitioners predicted. Delay and cost is being built into the system, and the quality of justice will suffer.

Let's give it a go is the general feeling.