Recent riot sentences too harsh ?

Magistrates can’t win !

Magistrates, like teachers, can scarcely be accused of doing the job for money. Further, they regularly face criticism for either being too lenient or too harsh. Many magistrates will have felt pressured to get tough when dealing with the offenders from the unprecedented recent riots and yet, they are still being criticized.

The President of the Prison Governors Association has come out and criticized the sentences resulting from the riots. We can certainly see both sides of the argument. On the one hand, many of the offences are likely to have been opportunistic, stupid and undertaken by “sheep” – those wanting to appear cool, to be part of the gang and to not lose face. Ordinarily, they would not attract harsh sentences, especially if first time offences. On the other hand, quite clearly, the Government, backed by an overwhelming majority of the public, believe that the riots are indicative of a bigger problem in society, a breakdown in respect for all and everything. On that basis, no society wishing to stay intact can do other than to put a marker down, hence the harsh sentences.

The Guardian recently reported that of 1,000 riot-related cases heard by magistrates, 70% of defendants were imprisoned, a massive jump from the norm of 2%.

What do you think about this ?

Corruption at Magistrates Court

Corruption alleged at Magistrates Court

Unearthing bribery and corruption is the flavor of the month at the moment. Let’s not forget that there are good and bad in every walk of life and that the temptation to take easy money is not a new thing, it goes back thousands of years.

In a somewhat ironic twist, the Sun newspaper, of course part of News International, has obtained evidence that suggests possible corruption from 2 low level staff working at Magistrates Court. The allegations are that the staff agreed not to input data relating to alleged traffic offences in return for a cash inducement. The staff have been suspended by the Ministry of Justice and arrested.

The 2 men in question are facing criminal investigations relating to suspicion of misconduct in a public office and perverting the course of justice.

Magistrates v Ministry of Justice ?

Magistrates v Ministry Of Justice

The Government cost cuttimg measures seem to know no bounds. Remembering that the role of Magistrate is unpaid, there are now even p[lans to cut mileage expenses recoverable by Magistartes at a time when many courts are being closed resulting in the Magistartes having to travel further.

The Ministry of Justice is seeking to reduce the mileage allowance for Magistrates  by approximately 1/3rd for cars over 1500cc. Whilst necessary cost cutting in the current economic climate is certainly not a bad thing, this seems very petty indeed and is unlikely to go down well with Magistrates offering their time free. It is projected that perhaps the total saving might be no more than £5 million.

There are about 30,000 magistrates in the UK.