Criminals taking advantage of ‘scandalous delay’ in UK courts: senior magistrate

Britain’s highest magistrate says criminals are choosing Supreme Court trials over hearings before magistrates and “scandalous delays” have forced victims and witnesses to give up testimony. I expect that I will be forced to withdraw.

Mark Beatty, the new president of the Society of Magistrates, said: Telegraph Defendants had played the system by choosing Crown Court, knowing that a huge backlog could mean their trial would not take place for two years. as it was.

While magistrates’ courts usually hold trials within six weeks, some people pleaded not guilty, victims recanted their statements, and witnesses gave credibility to their memories of the incident two years later. He said he chose a criminal trial in the hope that he would be punished. line.

Crimes tried by magistrates or criminal courts include robbery, theft, fraud, bribery, assault, stalking, harassment, public disturbance, drug possession, public obscenity, and voyeurism.

Crimes such as rape, manslaughter and murder are tried only in the Crown Court.

Trial delays in Crown Court were longer during the pandemic, with barrister strikes exacerbating the problem.

“Delay is scandalous”

Beattie, who sits as a Justice of the Peace (JP) in North London, said: Any crime that enters criminal court has victims. For someone who may have committed a serious, violent, or sexual crime to have to worry for so long about appearing in court, presenting evidence, and what might be asked of them, It’s not right. “

He said, “If you had something that could go to trial in a magistrate’s court in six to eight weeks, and you knew it would be 2024 before it went to the criminal court, which one would you choose? What?” he said.

The magistrate has managed to reduce the backlog of cases by 100,000 to less than 350,000 since the peak of the pandemic, despite falling 5,000 JP below his post target of 17,000 JP.

The magistrates’ association says it has helped reduce its backlog of cases by 100,000 since the pandemic, but JP says it’s short and asked it to put more money into the magistrates’ court system this week. We launched a campaign to persuade the government.

Magistrates are paid £107.97 ($123) a day, but according to Beattie, recruiting and retaining JPs is difficult given the workload and the stress that comes with it.

The Ministry of Justice increased the retirement age for magistrates to 70, and the government introduced laws that could sentence offenders to imprisonment from six months to a maximum of one year.

A Justice Department spokesman told The Telegraph there was no evidence the defendants were using the system.

he said: The magistrates’ important work keeps justice moving, so recently he has invested over £1 million to increase magistrates’ benefits and help recruit new magistrates. “

Chris Summers


Chris Summers is a UK-based journalist with a wide range of national coverage, with a particular interest in crime, police and law.