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.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Year's Revolution?

Before I switch into Christmas mode (and how glad am I not to be travelling this year?)can I just send a signal to the Magistrates' Association, of which I have been a member for two dozen years?

Even (to quote the late and unlamented Robert Maxwell) a one-eyed Albanian can see that 2011 will bring unprecedentedly rapid change to the justice system. The MA is doing its best, as sincerely and with the same effect as King Canute. The fundamental problem is that most magistrates regard the MA as an irrelevance. The first move to tackle that has to be to dump the MA's structure with the same determination that the Government is bringing to the public service, and put in something with shorter lines of communication based on benches rather than absurd branches. A JP who sits at Harrow is a member of the Middlesex branch, most of whose meetings are in Bloomsbury. The sheer logistics of travel put most people off attending. The new London benches will mostly be around 450 strong, and will be viable units for the MA to build on.

The government is in a hurry, for understandable reasons. The MA needs to gather up its skirts and join in the rush to reform. If it fails, when the music stops there may be no chair for it.