Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.

Comments are usually moderated. However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comment. If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Friday, 29 November 2013


I have copied below two extracts from the latest quarterly court statistics released today by the Ministry of Justice. Knowledgeable readers will judge for themselves whether or not the cold numbers give a true reflection of their own individual experiences. What the figures do not and cannot show is the amount of “downtime” experienced by Justices of the Peace sipping coffee in the retiring room……coffee brought in by themselves as HMCTS no longer provides same……….because listed trials have been aborted. This lost time is being paid for in the form of justices` expenses although because perhaps fewer than half claim anything more than petrol money and subsistence allowance for lunch it is miniscule in real terms. It results in the highly paid District and Deputy District Judges (M.C.) being allocated cases in preference to J.P.s when work is thin on the ground.

The second smaller extract is interesting insofar as it gives an indication of the professionalism with which cases are conducted at the magistrates` courts. Considering that the vast majority of trials are still presided over by lay benches as opposed to District Judges(M.C.) my colleagues and I can feel justly proud IMHO of course.

Trials in the magistrates’ courts

"Between 2003 and 2006, there was a step change in the proportion of ineffective trials from 29 per cent to19 per cent. The proportion of effective trials increased from 33 per cent in 2003 to 44 per cent in 2006. Since then rates of effective, cracked and ineffective  trials in the magistrates’ courts have all remained relatively stable. There were 39,115 trial hearings listed in magistrates’ courts during the first quarter of 2013.  Of these trials, 44 per cent were recorded as effective, 38 per cent were recorded as cracked and 18 per cent were ineffective. The main reasons for ineffective trials in the magistrates’ courts in the first quarter of 2013 were due to court administration problems (21 per cent of all ineffective trials), absence of the defendant (20 per cent of all ineffective trials) and the absence of a prosecution witness (16 per cent of all ineffective trials). In the first quarter of 2013 the main reasons for cracked trials were due to a late guilty plea being accepted (49 per cent of all cracked trials), the prosecution ending the case(16 per cent of all cracked trials) and insufficient evidence (14 per cent of all cracked trials). A trial that has been removed from the list before the trial start date is labelled as vacated. Vacated trials are counted in the month the vacation happens rather than the date when they were due to start. As an example, a trial due to be heard in Q1 2013 that was removed from the list in Q4 2012 would be included in the vacated trial numbers for Q4 2012. There has been a continued annual decline the number of vacated trials from 52,188 trials in 2008 to 45,873 trials in 2012".


"Since 2000 the number of appeals against magistrates’ courts decisions has remained relatively stable, around 13,000. During the first quarter of 2013, the Crown Court received 2,819 appeals against magistrates’ courts decisions, a 12 per cent decrease when compared with the same quarter in 2012, where by 3,214 cases were received".


  1. Not relevant to the above but could you assist please? Did you comment on changes made to JIG membership recently? I can't find it but if you did, could you point me to it?

    Thank you