Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Suspense Is Not Over

I am grateful to Glenna Robson, whom I know to be one of our readers, for the news that magistrates' power to impose a suspended sentence for summary offences has been reprieved.

The Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill is now law WITHOUT clause 10 which abolished the SSO for summary offences. The Lords held firm and the government chickened out because they had to get the Royal Assent by the night of 8 May so that the prison officers were banned from strike action. All the sections about prostitution had already been taken out in the interests of getting the bill passed. The debates were fascinating and, in fairness, the Magistrates' Association has obviously lobbied the Lords to some effect. There are some powerful legal minds there too as well as formidable campaigners like Lady Stern and Lord Ramsbotham.
The decision not to press on with the change owes more to force majeure than to principle, by the look of it, but it is welcome nonetheless.

I had my say on SSOs here and elsewhere.

Here is some good-quality debate from Hansard.

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