Friday, August 21, 2009

One Man's View

From a letter to the Daily Telegraph:-

Disgusting magistrates

SIR – I was shocked and disgusted to see an ignorant and offensive attack on police officers by the Magistrates’ Association (“Don’t trust the police with £60 fines, warn JPs”, report, August 18).

The association’s chairman, Chris Hunt Cooke said that “faced with the choice of the heavy burden of taking the matter to court and the simplicity of issuing a fixed penalty, it is certain many police officers will opt for a fixed penalty, however bad the driving may be”. This suggests that police officers will not deal appropriately with serious offences on the road. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We are not against fixed-penalty notices, but we do not see them as the sole solution to tackling all crime. Police must be allowed to use their discretion to determine whether the offence warrants an instant fine or sending to court.

Regrettably, over the past decade we have seen a government obsessed with creating more and more out-of-court disposals. This increases pressure on front-line officers to opt for a solution that fails the public and results in a dumbing down of the criminal justice system.

It is the criminal justice system that needs urgent review and the Magistrates’ Association would do well to recognise that rather than to pass on blame for its failings.

Alan Jones
Police Federation of England and Wales
Leatherhead, Surrey

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