Musings and Snippets from a recently retired JP. I served for 31 years, mostly in west London. I was Chairman of my Bench for some years, and a member of the National Bench Chairmen's Forum All cases are based on real ones, but anonymised and composited. All opinions are those of one or more individuals. JPs swear to enforce the law of the land, whether or not they approve of it. Nothing on here constitutes legal advice.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
A Minister Speaks
Here is a news release about the forthcoming 'flexible court' experiments. We look forward to hearing from magistrates lawyers and others how things are working.
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Once the headlines have died down it will quietly be put out to pasture with all the other 'initiatives' that got their inventors the leg up to the promotion they wanted, but of course didn't actually work.ReplyDelete
I see that courts are to sit "on weekends" which gives an indication of the transatlantic origin of this whizzo new scheme.ReplyDelete
Not all of the intended pilots will run. For instance, Saturday youth courts aimed at the (arguably rare) defendants attending school full time whose parents are working, depend upon provision of budget, and willingness of others to volunteer their services, including defence solicitors, CPS, YOT, legal advisers and other court staff, DJs and magistrates. I bet that only the very last of these elements can be relied upon.
And, of course, the minister will also be pleased to announce programmes to recruit sufficient extra legal advisors, Crown Prosecutors and probation staff to man these courts without adversely affecting the smooth-running of the Monday to Friday, daytime courts, not to mention the necessary prisoner escort and prison staff to facilitate out-of-hours reception into prisons.ReplyDelete
BONKERS,BONKERS.......just plain BONKERS!!ReplyDelete
You can just imagine the "The thick of it" style brainstorming session which produced this wheeze.ReplyDelete
There always seems to be a reason why nothing should be done to alter the status quo. I have no idea whether it will work or not, but have a go chaps and chapesses, you never know it might actually be the right thing to do..ReplyDelete
Pilots have been run on this idea before, one area being in Greater Manchester. It didn't work then because a) defence advocates were often unavailable, b) prosecutors were in shoort supply, as they were fully committed in 'standard hours' courts, case preparation, etc, court clerks were similarly in short supply, probation staff were not available and so any case requiring a report had to be adjourned to a daytime court, prisoner escort services were not available to man the cell block, nor to convey remand prisoners to prison, prisons for their part were not able to accept prisoners at non-standard hours, nor at weekends. In other words, the pilots showed that the system could not be introduced without considerable expnsion of manpower resources in a whole range of essential areas; and notice that I have not mentioned judges or magistrates.Delete
The pilots were held, the outcomes analysed and the conclusion drawn by goevernment that there was no realistic prospect of successfully addressing the obstacle. The idea was dropped.
In the intervening few years the only thing that has changed is the government. Why then should a further round of pilots be required to confirm the earlier ones, especially in the teeth of courthouse closures, staff reductions and other damaging cost savings. Or do we have a Secretary of State for Magic?
Swift justice is not justice. It is a fact that there is not enough work during the week to keep courts busy. I was in court the other day and most of the committals were done by the LA under delegated powers whilst we sat in the retiring room. None of the courts allocated early starts (0930) have actually started then and much less 10 am. The short answer is no one at HMCTS or MOJ has a clue.ReplyDelete
Next time the Old Bill give me a ticket for offence xyz , I'll tell him what you said and see how far it gets me.Delete
I can see some justification for SOME flexibility in the system, but that has to be measured.ReplyDelete
I wonder if this is a gain a London/big city thing where there maybe is a need for the odd later court or certainly somesort of court on a Saturday morning. I cannot see any need at all for anything on a Sunday. Apart from it being the Lord's day( I'm not a bible basher by the way) it is wrong and will be dreadfully expensive.
I can remember not too long ago when another rationalisation initiative was on that Saturday Courts were to be reduced and centralised to save money. It did anything but as what was saved in court time was more than spent of moving people around, lawyer travel etc.
What is required is flexible powers ansd a flexible plan so that if a NEED arises they can deal with that extrodinary demand- nothing more nothing less
Saturday courts tried out at Bow Street a few years ago, were an expensive disaster.ReplyDelete
It is time to televise all court proceedings not ordered by the Judge otherwise!ReplyDelete
Stream them to the internet.
Allow in some more light.
Are HMCTS and the MOJ really going to be in favour of allowing viewers to see how often the papers are missing, the defendant isn't there, the witnesses are not there etc. etc. etc.?Delete