Law Courts in England & Wales.
The process of the Law Courts system in England & Wales needs to be re-accessed. Law Courts need to be re-organised and properly funded. Crime should not be allowed to pay.
Both Crown & Magistrates Law Courts in England & Wales have suffered from underfunding for decades. Family Courts and County Courts are almost unheard of in these times. Most elected Governments boast “Tough on Crime” slogans pre-election to get our vote, then conveniently forget and cut the services even further.
The tactic has no benefits for anyone. Defendants and victims are being denied a Court hearing / trial coming to a conclusion as soon as is possible. In a fair and timely manner. Our Justice system, along with an overhaul of the processes involved, requires a huge investment urgently. Most Courts are in need of basic repair. A Judge in Court with due process should decide sentencing, not the Governmental spin mandarins.
The Magistrates Courts role is to accommodate the lesser serious criminal offences. The sentencing powers that this Court were reduced in 2020. The Government decided that Prison Sentences of less than 12 months ceased.
Originally, Magistrates Courts could pass a maximum custodial sentence of 6 months. With those powers withdrawn, the Magistrates Courts are basically ineffective and pointless. It has probably caused an increase to the workload of the Crown Court considerably, and allows petty crime to go unchallenged.
The rational behind the decision is that such short sentences has no benefit. Government policy fails Victims, but to pacify their Treasury colleagues.
Crown Courts preside over the most serious Criminal offences committed within the land. However, a trial at Crown Court is a very expensive, drawn out process. The system has not yet broken. However it needs investment and re-visiting, soon.
There needs to be another type of Criminal Court. A Court which has the powers to deal with crimes lesser than Murder / Rape / Serious drug dealings / G.B.H, but with sufficient powers to convict greater than those cases that can be heard in a Magistrates Court. An Intermediary Court.
An intermediary Court would allow releasing much pressure on the existing Crown Court facilities, and prevent “lesser sentencing cases ” i.e Criminal Damage / A.B.H / Burglary etc, to be heard sooner that is possible today. Cases which could sentence an offender to a maximum of 14 years if necessary.
County & Family Courts
County and Family Courts are available for civil matters. A lot of the work is dealing with Divorce Settlements.
If England and Wales were to adopt the Scottish legalisation of Pre-Nuptial agreements, that alone would free up these Courts time.
Intermediary style Courts
There needs to be a new style of Court where sentencing can be passed which is higher than a Magistrates Court, but not a potential life sentence of the Crown Court.
These courts could reduce the back log of cases waiting to come to trial at Crown Court, and would be a less expensive means of trials being heard. There could also be legislation so that juries were not obligatory in this style of Court, but juries would remain obligatory at any Crown Court trial.
These intermediary Courts could hear cases that demand sentencing from 6 months imprisonment up to “life”, and from Level 2 to level 5 fines.
These Courts should be made available with longer hours, the better use of Circuit Judges, and where evidence is used to ascertain guilt / no guilt, along with dedicated barristers to “hear” the trial, rather than the “12 just men” system of the last 3 centuries.
The process of a crime trial is a very long and drawn out, expensive procedure. Process from the time of arrest to a trials end at Court is far too long. In part due to the number of cases, but due to a serious underfunding of the Law Courts system, over several decades.
The high number of cases is not due to an increase in Police activity, far from it.It is due to more people turning to crime. Crime is just too easy in the U.K and the Law Courts can’t cope with the demand. The excessive time taken for process. The CPS drop cases from proceeding based on Government “guidance” and time restrictions.
A new Court process of when someone is “caught red-handed” should be developed. A much close relationship needs to be created between the Police and the Law Courts on a more daily basis. The CPS needs to be reminded what their true role is towards society.
A defendant caught committing a crime during an act of i.e: burglary, shop lifting, drivers / accomplices caught smuggling a van full of cigarettes from the E.U at UK ports, assaults etc caught on CCTV and arrested at the time. Such offenders should appear before the Courts (Circuit Judge) later that day, rather than bailed to re-offend or abscond. As long as sufficient evidence is there.
Evidence could be laid before a Judge in a Court that can prove “the points” on the same day as the offence took place. Similar to the “pleas & bargaining” process’s of today.
The whys and wherefores of the offence, could be debated later, during the sentence period and reviewed if necessary. Sufficient evidence for minor / middle ranging crimes can today be obtained from CCTV, Police body cams, photographs, written witness statements, & tape recorded interviews etc.
The only issues to put before a judge should be :-
a) is this the offender?
b) was it an offence
c) is there blatant evidence to connect & convict a) & b)?
A process similar to procedures used in Scottish Law (U.K) involving the Procurator Fiscal.
A Lawyers role is to ensure that the Defendants rights are not denied. It is not to concoct some fancy waffle, specifically designed to mislead the Law Courts and assist a guilty party go without the just punishment.
Some Lawyers watch too much T.V
Attempts to add “drama” to a Court proceedings i.e attempting to sway a Jury in a trial, attempting to mislead the Court, wasting the Courts time etc. A new specific offence needs creating, similar to ‘Attempting to pervert the course of Justice’, to kerb this behaviour.
A specific offence needs creating to protect Jurors, the Judge and Justice itself from this tactic. Too much greed by unscrupulous lawyers with scant regard for their own integrity or for Justice.
The Government continually issues “Guidance” to our Law Courts & CPS. These tend to be nothing more than Government “knee-jerk” ad hoc, ill-thought out reactions, to pressures from various minority campaigners & / or the media.
Unfortunately, that interference has created situations where one defendant becomes more “equal” than another in our Courts. That is corruption of our Justice system.
- Immediate serious investment in the U.K Justice system
- Justice / Court process should be modernised
- Re-instate less than 12month sentencing for a Magistrates Court
- Increase the Power of the Magistrates Law Court to sentence up to 18 months
- Increase the Power of the Magistrates Law Court to fine to a new “Level” of up to £10,000
- Extend the hours of a Magistrates Law Court, to be available as to the demand required, regularly. 24/7 in some circumstances.
- Introduce “caught red-handed” sentencing
- Stricter controls on a Lawyers role in Court.
- Allow a Judge to sentence appropriately, as they deem fit. Cease Government interference, i.e the issuing of P.C based guidelines. That’s what Laws are for.
- Build more Prisons, repair the Courts
- Punishments to fit the crime
- A new Court to preside between Magistrates and Crown Courts.