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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Friday, 8 July 2016

THE HOUSE OF LORDS DEBATES J.P.s` SENTENCING POWERS

Yesterday the House of Lords debated the question of whether or not magistrates` sentencing powers should be increased to twelve months.  The noble exchanges were a perfect example of a "yes but if perhaps" session.  Or to put it more succinctly, the proxies of the irresistible argumental force of the Magistrates Association met the immovable rock proponents of the Howard League.  The debate concluded surprisingly enough with mild and lordly disparaging comments on the issue of magistrates varying tags imposed on offenders to allow them to take holidays.  Presumably their lord and ladyships were unaware that the significance of tagging was to ensure that the terms of a curfew were met.  Indeed this ignorance was underlined by the comment of Lord Smith of Hindhead, "Can the Minister update the House on recent talks with the Magistrates’ Association to help close this loophole?"  We, of course, know that there is no such loophole and that a bench has the power to vary the terms of a curfew upon application so to do.  Whether any decision of that nature has been ill advised is another matter. In addition the Magistrates Association of course is powerless to change the law. The debate is available here.

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