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.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Dog That Didn't Bark In The Night

Don't tell anyone that I told you, but I was quietly encouraged by Gordon Brown's 'Not The Queen's Speech' yesterday. It wasn't what he said, but rather the fact that he showcased his housing proposals and left the latest Criminal Justice proposals buried in the middle of his speech. Under Blair the Government's determination not to be outflanked on law'n'order was always apparent, and resulted in a lot of reforms that were at best useless and at worst damaging.
However, the loss of the Suspended Sentence for summary offences will greatly hamper our efforts to deal with offences such as high-level and repeated drink driving, Common Assault (and that's what nearly all domestic violence is charged as) Driving While Disqualified (and that's an offence that is often repeated) Taking a Vehicle (again an offence that is often repeated, thus making a deterrent very useful) Vehicle Interference and others. So while Government policy will continue to lock up thousands of offenders on indeterminate sentences, sometimes for lack of staff to assess them for release, magistrates will lose one of their most useful tools to enforce orders and deter reoffending.
I hope that Brown will not inherit his predecessor's love of the headline-grabbing quick fix. If the courts are given a rest from new legislation for a year or two we may get a chance to make some sense of CJSSS and Community Justice, two worthwhile ideas that will take a lot of hard work and a bit of luck if they are not to fail.