Magistrates will be able to lock up people for longer under powers being granted by the government to cut the Crown court backlog.

Lord chancellor Dominic Raab announced today that he will double the maximum prison sentence – currently six months - that magistrates can hand down. Magistrates will also increasingly be allowed to sentence serious cases such as fraud, theft and assault. Currently, any crime that warrants a prison sentence of more than six months must be sent to the Crown court for a judge to determine the appropriate sentence.