Magistrates will be able to impose longer jail sentences under new plans to clear huge court backlogs
Magistrates are to have their sentencing powers increased in order to reduce pressure on the Crown Courts and speed up justice, it was confirmed today.
Under plans announced by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said., the maximum 6-month prison sentence that can currently be handed out by Magistrates is to be doubled to a year.
The move will free up an estimated 2,000 extra days of Crown Court time annually, it will also allow more serious cases to be heard by magistrates – such as fraud, theft and assault.
At present, any crimes warranting a jail term of more than 6 months must be sent to Crown Court where judges determine the appropriate sentence.
“Retaining more cases in the Magistrates’ Courts, which have been less severely affected by Covid, means Crown Courts can focus their resources on tackling the backlog which has built up during the pandemic.” The MoJ has said.
Bev Higgs, National Chair of the Magistrates’ Association said:
“We have been campaigning for years for magistrates’ sentencing powers to be extended to 12 months for single offences, so we are delighted with the announcement today.”
“It is absolutely the right time to re-align where cases are heard to ensure a safe, effective, and efficient justice system and this demonstrates great confidence in the magistracy.”
“Magistrates have been integral in keeping the justice system functioning during the Covid-19 pandemic and, by enabling them to hear more serious offences, this new provision will mean they can contribute to easing the pressure on the Crown Courts.”
“I know our members and colleagues will take up this new level of responsibility with pride, professionalism, and integrity and will – as always – strive to deliver the highest quality of justice in their courts.”
The UK Governments Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab said:
“This important measure will provide vital additional capacity to drive down the backlog of cases in the Crown Courts over the coming years.”
“Together with the Nightingale Courts, digital hearings and unlimited sitting days, we will deliver swifter and more effective justice as we build back a stronger, safer and fairer society after the pandemic.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com