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.




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Thursday, 12 December 2013

SO MUCH HOT AIR



We are all aware that when in company the person who never stops talking or allowing anyone else to get a word in edgeways is generally not the  most popular of people.  IMHO similar consideration can be given to those who purport to be our governors.  With the greater the number of papers or documents issued for “consultation” or instruction the law of diminishing returns comes into play.  Such might be considered as apposite to some of the terms of the The Crime and Courts Act provisions of which came into force yesterday.

Those deemed most likely to affect magistrates (and D.J.s)  are:-
·        1.Community Orders- duty of courts to impose a punitive element in all community orders unless there are exceptional circumstances which would make doing so unjust (my italics)
·        2.Deferred Sentences-  A power to add a restorative justice requirement to a deferred sentence is being introduced
·        3.Compensation Order-  The £5,000 limit per offence is removed
·        4.Power to order a defendant to provide a statement of his/her assets when fining or enforcing a fine

My comments are as follows:-

1.      To all practical purposes those terms  and considerations are already applied by the courts and explanations given.  In addition punishment and rehabilitation can be applicable to a single sentence requirement eg unpaid work
2.       In general magistrates` courts` use of deferred sentence will be limited with or without additional terms
3.      Offences where compensation reaches four figures are very rare in magistrates` courts; such offenders are likely to be sentenced at the crown court
4.      This practice can already be undertaken in certain cases to ascertain income arising from such assets and is not uncommon

Guidance suggests that courts must have regard to an offender`s means  but they remain at the court`s discretion.  Unless I am badly mistaken it would be an unusual court which did not consider an offender`s ability to pay.   So for guidance to state that a sentence should not be disproportionate to the offending one might add that equally it should not tell granny how to suck eggs.

One realises that the Weasels of Whitehall have to conjure up ever more verbose nonsense to justify their and their master`s existence but more than occasionally such activity is revealed for what it really is……..very very overheated air!

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