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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Monday, 26 January 2015


It seems that there are still some within and many without the legal profession who still retain the concept that justice is “local”.  There is an argument to be made that the concept should be and in many cases is considered an anachronism.  When transport between villages and towns was limited to the strength of a person`s legs for the majority and by horseback or cart for most of the remainder of the population petty sessions  had to be held locally.  As an example there were over twenty petty sessions courts in the West Riding of Yorkshire alone in the 19th and early 20th century.  Currently there are 871 J.P.s sitting in West Yorkshire and they now sit each for a minimum of 26 half days annually at  only four magistrates` courts in this geographical region.  There is currently a    consultation on the merger of the local justice areas in North Yorkshire which portends more courts closing in that area.   Even in  London with its transport links where many courts have been closed and similar mergers have taken place attendees be they defendants or witnesses can have over an hour`s travel to their “local” court with the cost that that entails.

For M.P.s of whatever colour  these closures are in reality a perfect platform for them to broadcast their  concerns for their constituents.  I would opine that they know as well as those directly involved that the HMCTS steamroller will not be persuaded from its path by any argument that does not meet the single criterion of meeting its budgetary requirements.   But then there`s an election in a 100 days.

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