Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sleeping Dog Wakes Up and Bites

The Times reports that the Magistrates' Association has finally lost patience with the Government's cynical and unworkable policy of taking vast amounts of crime out of the courts and 'bringing offences to justice' with the issue of a fixed penalty ticket, or a caution of some sort. It's money driven and has nothing to do with justice, and it's nice to hear the MA speaking out for once. The MA does a lot of valuable work for magistrates but there has been a feeling for some time that it is just a little too cosy with the Government. A symptom of that is the fact that last year a great majority of Bench Chairmen voted to separate the National Bench Chairmen's Forum from the MA, to give chairmen, who know their benches better than anyone, a voice at the top table. Even Rumpole's creator is getting fed up with it.
In response to the Times story the best that the Minister could do was to parrot the Whitehall mantra 'Criminal Justice, Simple, Speedy, and Summary'. We all want to see that. What he missed off was 'cheap' and 'unfair'.

The MA website has a lot about this, and it's well worth a read

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