Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Full Circle

Thanks to David W-J for pointing me to this report.

Does nobody in the MoJ have a memory longer than six weeks? The idea of sitting courts in the church hall or a disused shop or wherever was trailed some years ago until the practical difficulties surfaced, such as security for staff and JPs, installation of IT equipment and other matters.

Mr. Penning, the genius behind this idea,, says that the proposal will 'restore the principle of community justice'. So that's why your department has busily closed scores of local courts, so that many people now live up to 50 miles from their nearest one?

He goes on to say that 'some people' are 'more than happy to go off to places where they are not known'.

It isn't the opprobrium of neighbours that people fear, but rather the penalty points and the fine and the costs and the surcharge.

Finally, and most ludicrously, he says that these little people's tribunals might be 'a job for the village bobby'. Which village bobby is that, Minister?



  1. Emmm... people are tried in the court local to the offence, not local to their home. And he thinks making it more local (and by the sounds of things informal) he will discourage people from pleading not guilty and appearing in 'court'? Surely making it MORE convenient to attend will increase willingness to fight a case. Does he really think local people have nothing to do but sit in courts listening to dull cases? And is the plan to let the police replace the impartial judge... surely not but that is what it sounded like.

  2. Nothing like a bit of local vilification to rub it in about your Council's fund raising using speed cameras.

  3. So right BS - I read this news report with growing horror at the utter stupidity of the whole thing. I am convinced that Mr Penning has never so much as spent 5mins at his "local" Mags Ct.

  4. Just to be contrarian... maybe there is room for magistrate-lite courts where there is no possibility of custody and no witnesses, ie courts that only hear guilty pleas and do case management for defendants pleading not-guilty. No security would be required. There would still need to be a retiring room for the JPs, a room for the CPS and social services people and somewhere for the duty solicitor to prep the perps.

    TBH, I'm not even believing my own argument.

    And when you add in the fact a speeder living in Surrey could get summonsed to the back room of a pub in a Welsh mining village it all gets a bit unlikely. (On the plus side, after a generous round of drinks the "court" might quash all previous convictions.)

  5. You would still need security. A guilty plea leading to a custodial may result in a little annoyance on the part of the 'perp'.

    And without security anyone could turn up to 'deal with' magistrates they dislike.

    1. Which is why I wrote "where there is no possibility of custody...". Mags-lite would need the option to say: we cannot handle this here, it needs to go "upstairs" (as Bystander would say) to the regular Magistrates.

  6. What concerns me is Mikes comment of '[He] believes it would force people to think twice before challenging speeding tickets". Too right people should challenge speeding tickets if they believe they have not been issued correctly. Any suggestion to put somone off ensuring justice has been done should somehow be curtailed is appalling.

  7. I have only been in one magistrate's court and that was for moral support to the defendant. I had no part in the proceedings. Even though the very nature of a court made everything so much more official and imposing.

    The thought of the same case being heard in a shop takes away the gravity of the occasion and almost makes it seem unreal to the point of not being taken seriously.


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