If the proposal to put a 'court' into a shopping centre is anything but a cruel hoax, may I respectfully draw the attention of the Magistrates' Association and the Ministry of Justice to a few practical difficulties?
i) According to the Westfield website the centre is open for 75 hours a week. How many hours will the 'court' be open for?
ii) Will the judicial manpower be a DJ (or several) at about £150k pa each, or lay justices (not all of whom will fancy working up to 10 pm in dodgy West London).
iii) Who will fund the required legal advisers at a cost, including on-costs, of about £50k pa each?
iv) Who will be responsible for booking in the suspect, checking them on the PNC, taking DNA and prints, ensuring that a doctor is not needed, and starting the charge paperwork?
v) Where will the CPS fit in?
vi) How will the suspects' right to free legal advice be dealt with?
vii) How will the security of the judiciary be ensured? A proportion of shoplifters will be drug addicts or mentally ill.
viii) What happens if a case needs to be adjourned, if there is a not-guilty plea, a legal aid application, or a request to see the suspect's own solicitor?
ix) What sort of custodial arrangements will there be? That is a job for professionals.
x) What about youth offenders? They must have an appropriate adult and their names must not be made public. Will there be YOT staff at Westfield too?
And that list is just for starters!
What's the matter with the MA?
(Later) Here's a 'clarification' as reported by Solicitors' Journal. Apparently the statement resulted in 'good PR'. Hmmmm.
(Thanks to SLJP for the tip)
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