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 If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.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, 12 February 2016


By now most readers will probably be aware of the government`s decision for another wholesale closure of magistrates` courts.  This was perfectly predictable.  This Chancellor who controls ministry budgets has shown for some time that he picks off these targets easiest to hit an example being the infamous "pasty tax" in 2013 which was hurriedly withdrawn.  The principle underlying the bedroom tax might have some cogent arguments in its favour but its implementation took no prisoners and has led to much ill will from some natural Tory supporters. The scandals of those whose disability allowance has been arbitrarily reduced or withdrawn have played eagerly into the hands of the Opposition.  But the closure of courts is a different matter.  Most people have not had any contact with the legal system.  The arguments against closure especially for those courts in rural districts are unchanged.  The facile statement that 97% of court attenders will be able to reach their nearest court within one hour`s travel by car is just another sign of the arrogance of those who rule us.   My experience tells me that a large but apparently unquantifiable number of court attendees travel by public transport.  In a city they  might be within one hour of the court but a brief look at the map of inter alia North West England, Devon and Cornwall or central and North Wales tells a different story for public transport. It cannot now be denied that the mantra of local J.P.s for local justice is now consigned to history despite the protestations of those whose view of the situation is coloured by their rose tinted spectacles. Already one magistrate has told his local media of his resignation from the bench owing to his court being one designated for closure.  Others will surely follow.  This will be a source of satisfaction for those in Petty France. 10,000 J.P.s have gone in ten years; only another 19,000 to go.........literally.


  1. An example. X lives in Kendal and has to attend as a witness in a trial that will now be held 47 miles away in Barrow-in-Furness. There is a bus. It leaves Kendal at 0815 and will reach Barrow at 10am. X now has to get to the court building and so arrives at 10.30. This adds to the stress of having to be a witness. The fare is £14 return.

    The logical outcome of this is that people will not attend court and others will not bother to report offences.

  2. Our defendants and witnesses are warned to be at at court at 9.30am for a 10am hearing. So what does your witness do then?

  3. He will arrive late and the court will have to put up with it, and the case delayed somewhat. The fare will be refunded but that assumes the witness has it in the first place. If it is the defendant doing the journey he may find himself facing a warrant for arrest.

    It is important that someone - HMCTS, CPS or MA perhaps - researches the effects of these closure on witness and defendant attendance at court. I don't suppose they will though.

  4. Any research should have been done before the decision was taken to close 86 courts, not after. Our bench among many others covering rural areas majored on this in our objections. As our host Justice of the Peace quite rightly says, the majority of our clients don't have cars and rely on public transport, which is either non-existent or does not run to suit court times.

    I am also astonished at the MoJs' assertion that the sale of these 86 courts will raise £40 million; that puts an average price of £470,00 on each courthouse, which is less than the average London flat price. Developers will be falling over themselves to buy at these bargain-basement prices, and make a killing selling them for millions as hotels, offices or flats. Where's the benefit to the public purse in that?

  5. And despite court closures, more DJ appointments announced in the press.....