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.

Friday, May 04, 2007

More Good Sense From The Lord Chief

Lord Phillips has recently made a speech to a Probation conference and it is well worth a look. The Guardian reports on it here.
Reading between the lines of his measured remarks it is not hard to sense the frustration felt by the senior judiciary (as well as a few of us down at the judicial coalface) at the near-reckless way in which the Government has forced through changes that should properly have taken much more time and involved much more thought that they have been given. There are real and present dangers and conflicts in the rushed implementation of the Ministry of Justice, and the damned thing opens for business next week. Last Christmas none of us knew anything about it. You wouldn't reorganise a corner shop in such a hurried way.
The prison crisis is real and is not going to go away. The 8000 new places that are planned will not even remotely keep pace with the increase in numbers, because on top of a marked increase in sentence lengths we have the still-to-be-guessed at impact of indeterminate IPP sentences. Not only will these sentences lead to thousands of offenders being kept behind bars for far longer than would have been the case in the past, but it is a near-certainty that there will be insufficient resources to perform the risk assessments that must precede the decision to release. As a result many offenders will rot in prison for years while the bureaucratic wheels creak round. The LCJ's speech also refers to returns to prison following breach of licence - another policy brought in with seemingly no thought as to resources.
Lord Phillips is doing a good job but it is not too hard to see the pressures that he is under.