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.

My Photo
Location: Near London, United Kingdom

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

Monday, May 21, 2007


I have read thousands of words about the grand new plans to streamline magistrates' court procedures, and I have spent a good few hours being talked to about them. Making the lower courts' procedures as quick and simple as possible is what the management types call a no-brainer. We are all in favour. Totally.
Of course delays now occur while legal aid is processed - but there is worse. In the last couple of weeks I have heard of a CPS prosecutor who was sent to the wrong court, and took until 10.55 to battle through the traffic, then needed fifteen minutes to start reading the files. The court lost an hour, could not sit late because of the staff work-to-rule and was forced to send cases away untouched.

A few days later a colleague told me that at 10 o'clock the defendant, his lawyer and 3 witnesses were ready, but no prosecutor had appeared. The victim had a 5 month baby with her. It appeared that the prosecutor assigned to the case was ill and no substitute had been sent. The senior CPS prosecutor present was called into court about 10.15, apologised and said a substitute had left the office about 10 minutes earlier. He arrived about 11.00 and then needed time to read papers and speak to witnesses. The trial started just before noon, two hours late, and the 3 witnesses were called. At 1.15 the court broke for lunch returning at 2.15 to hear the defendant. On returning the court was told that the prosecutor was needed in court 2 to deal with a couple of matters, because that court had a Designated Caseworker (DCW) whose powers did not extend to dealing with them. He would go there while the bench read a short interview statement. He was away about 40 minutes, as there was also a bail application. The court was left with its morning trial hanging in abeyance with a second trial waiting, ready to go ahead.
At 3.50 they started the 2p.m. trial, with no chance of finishing it on the day.

Unless and until the CPS sorts itself out the drive to implement CJSSS hasn't got a prayer.