Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Sign Of The Times

One of the less well-known functions of the Magistrates' Court is its family jurisdiction. JPs who have passed selection and received specialised training sit on cases involving the care and custody of children, financial matters and much more. There are arrangements for cases to be transferred between the County Court and the Family Proceedings Court as they evolve.
The tragedy of Baby Peter, and a number of other cases involving vulnerable children, have led to a large increase in the volume of work coming before the courts, so I was not surprised to see a notice in our retiring room asking for volunteers to apply to the Family Panel to try to clear the growing backlog of cases, which now runs to a year or more for some. 'Lack of judicial resources' is given as one of the main causes of delay. I am sure that there will be a good response; there aren't many more important things a magistrate can do.

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