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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Wednesday, 2 August 2017


For over ten years sentencers in England & Wales have lived with Sentencing Guidelines. Having been there at the beginning and noting their current manifestation at least as far as magistrates` courts are concerned I am not sorry that according to the MOJ and its rules my time was up a couple of years ago. Indeed I stopped sitting in advance of retirement so as not to have to pronounce on the iniquitous now rescinded Criminal Courts Charge.  The Guidelines in their latest incarnation are a labyrinthine exercise in algorithmic steps leading to a supposedly constant outcome for the circumstances of the offending in every area of the nation rich or poor, town or country, male or female I don`t go there........etc etc. By their very nature and reason for being they have removed almost entirely sentencers` discretion.  Any deviation has to be explained in open court.  Indeed if the present trend continues there will be no need for sentencers at all; it doesn`t take much imagination to foresee that a fully computer controlled algorithmic exercise could take over,  reducing costs and that is the watchword of the MOJ and its partner in crime the Home Office.  Their actions over this period prove that: closing courts, removing legal aid, privatising probation, running down prisons, taking police off the streets, decimating border protection.  I could go on.  Now the people of Scotland are being invited to offer their opinions on what kind of sentencing guidelines they would wish to have in place.  One thing I can guarantee is that they won`t be asked if they want a return to capital punishment even under the most stringent conditions.  My advice to any reading this resident over the border is to take a look at what we have in England & Wales and ask yourself; do you want your representatives on the bench to be hamstrung and for initiative and common sense to be relegated to memories of a bygone era?  You have a wonderful opportunity which we south of the border were not offered. Relish it.  Take it in both hands and offer your opinion.

1 comment:

  1. "Indeed I stopped sitting in advance of retirement so as not to have to pronounce on the iniquitous now rescinded Criminal Courts Charge."
    A wiser choice than me, I made a submission to the Justice Select Committee and ended up with a conduct investigation. The chairman of the conduct investigation had made up his mind calling me rebellious, refusing to enforce the charge and writing to my MP (none of them true). Came as a shock to find I had Parliamentary Privilege and he was at risk of being in contempt of the House of Commons. The in crowd don't like us lowly magistrates to have an opinion or speak out.