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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Tuesday, 24 January 2017

INCREASED MOTORING FINES//THEM AND US

I have previously criticised the principles underlying the Sentencing Council`s Guidelines for Magistrates` Courts insofar as they consist more or less of the much derided tick box method of imposing penalties.  This seems to be a dumbing down of the whole system  as it appears to accept that a lay bench [or District Judge] is not quite capable of using its own logical processes in coming to a decision appropriate to the facts before it. The watchword cited in favour of the Guidelines which are tending to increased prescription is the supposed avoidance of "post code sentencing" i.e. uniformity in sentencing is the watchword.  A similar argument has been used to describe treatments and outcomes within the NHS(postcode lottery). I would opine that all we want as individuals and as a society is the best outcome for each of us in our own individual circumstances. 

Notwithstanding the above there has been noticeable public disdain over the level of wages paid to Premier League footballers.  This has been tolerated owing to the popularity of football. However when those elite players enter an environment to which plebs can relate the attitude changes.  Media cannot usually report on the level of tips they give to waiters in expensive restaurants or the amount spent on grooming their dogs but media can report on the cars they drive and the penalties imposed in open court for motoring and other offences.  

Speeding, driving without due care and no insurance are amongst the commonest of motoring offences.  Until April 24th the latter two offences will still attract a maximum fine of £5000.  After that date courts will have the power to level unlimited fines which will also be available for drink driving. The days when £50,000 a week sports stars or city bankers and financiers can leave court having paid a morning`s wages as a fine will be over and a gawping public might feel that there is just a small narrowing of the gulf between "them and us". As Marx almost said "each according to his means".........Karl not Groucho.

2 comments:

  1. Can't wait to see the case where a magistrate imposes a fine of £40,000 on a footballer (avg weekly wage as per guidelines) and is roundly slapped down by the powers that be (and the tabloids).

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  2. As most of us know this way of sentencing based on a 'weekly' wage for high earners is rapidly bringing the summary justice system into disrepute. For any magistrates' court to impose a fine of this magnitude (other than a fine related to environmental health or similar) just makes the bench look silly and is fodder for the tabloids. OK - run a fine into the thousands of pounds but don't tie the hands of the bench in this manner. And so many people run their own businesses and are self employed and what they earn weekly can only be a guess until books are closed at the end of the year. Whoever these people are on the Sentencing Council surely some with common sense should have pointed this out and found another way. And don't forget the prosecution costs and oh oh the Victim Surcharge of 35 pounds!

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