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, 13 February 2014
Until a few years ago the magistracy defined “localcy” as one of its strengths. All the actions of the Ministry of Justice and its associated agencies are based on redefining the system as “national” whilst perhaps retaining the original label when it suits their purpose. Of course local knowledge can be argued to be a strength for the recruitment of individuals to the position of Justice of the Peace. Strangely or not so strangely those same officials responsible take no cognisance of that thinking process in the appointment of District Judges(M.C.). What is undeniable is that the box ticking approach to sentencing has probably still some way to go. Magistrates and Crown Court Judges are increasingly referring to nationally applied guidelines to minimise their chances of being appealed. But guidelines apply only as far as the demographics of the areas over which courts operate.
Disqualification of offending drivers takes place mostly in magistrates` courts. An interesting study has revealed that Smethwick in the West Midlands has the most disqualified drivers per head in Britain. 160 of its 20,194 drivers (0.8%) were disqualified in 2012. At the opposite end of the scale Harpenden in Hertfordshire had only one tenth of that percentage of its drivers banned; 19 of 23,347 drivers (0.08%)
The demographics of these two towns are also at opposite ends of any measurable scale…….educational and income levels, occupational status, health outcomes etc etc. Are we to believe Milleband when he claims that he`s the flag bearer of one nation politics or does Disraeli`s dictum of one nation Conservatives still hold in the hands of Cameron?