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Tuesday, 01 February 2022 15:14

Increase in magistrates powers

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The chair of the Magistrates’ Association has criticised what she described as 'unwarranted hostility' towards magistrates following the news that their sentencing powers will be increased to help cut the Crown court backlog.



Earlier this week lord chancellor Dominic Raab announced that he would double the maximum prison sentence – currently six months – that magistrates can hand down. They 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.

Raab said the 'important measure' would provide additional capacity to drive down the Crown court backlog over the coming years - an assertion questioned by the Law Society and Criminal Bar Association.

High-profile anonymous legal blogger Secret Barrister, who has 478,000 followers, tweeted: ‘Magistrates’ courts, presided over by volunteers with no legal training, are run in conditions of chaos. They are by any measure a lesser form of justice. Rather than fund the system properly, the government wants more cases heard in these conditions.’

Bev Higgs, chair of the Magistrates Association, told the Gazette she was disappointed to see the reaction of some in the defence community ‘to this highly practical and sensible move’.

For full article https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/unwarranted-hostility-magistrates-chief-fires-back-at-critics/5111241.article?utm_source=gazette_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Back+to+work%3f+Offices+open+but+half-empty+%7c+Assange+extradition+fight+latest+%7c+Guise+loses+strike-off+appeal_01%2f24%2f2022

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