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, 20 November 2014

NUMBERS ARE PLAYFUL ITEMS



Absolute discharge - no further action is taken, since either the offence was very minor or the court considers that the experience has been enough of a deterrent. The offender will receive a criminal record.   

The last decade can arguably be described as one in which the law has become increasingly prescriptive at the summary level.  In 2004 there were 530,847 offenders sentenced at magistrates` courts on non motoring offences of whom 4,507 received an absolute discharge; 0.85%.   Similar figures for the year ending June 2014 are 416,198 and 2,079 or 0.5%.  For motoring offences alone in 2004 of 704,836 sentenced 9,086 received an absolute discharge i.e. 1.3%.  Now ten years later the figures are that of 447,566 sentenced only 2,732 were given an absolute discharge; 0.6%.  I am no statistician but an absolute discharge rate for motoring offences which has decreased by a little over 50% seems significant.  Perhaps the interpretation of strict liability has tightened;  perhaps courts are less inclined to be benevolent.  Looking at the numbers above on non motoring sentencing it could possibly be construed that the CPS is more refined in its prosecuting policy and those cases which just reach its prosecution threshold are not now being pursued.

Numbers are playful items.  No wonder those involved in all aspects of the criminal justice system go to such lengths to find numbers which suit their political purposes.

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