Will increased sentencing powers for magistrates solve the court backlog problem?

Will increased sentencing powers for magistrates solve the court backlog problem?
Churchers partner Hannah Jones doesn’t think so.
Sentencing powers at magistrates’ courts were increased at the beginning of May in a bid to reduce a backlog and delays for cases at crown court.
Magistrates were only able to impose a maximum of six months in prison for a single offence. This meant that more serious cases where longer sentences were considered necessary were previously always sent to the crown court.

Why have things changed?
Head of the Churchers criminal team, Hannah Jones said the rationale behind the increased powers was to clear the backlog of cases in the crown court which was significantly worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic when the courts were operating on a skeleton basis and all jury trials were postponed.

At Churchers, we have a number of cases where there is now a delay of 10 months or more between plea hearing and trial. In addition, we have a number of cases where trials are being moved to an alternative crown court to try to help clear the backlog – meaning that defendants and complainants are often having to travel much further, causing greater inconvenience for all.

How will the change help the delay?
The thinking is that if more cases are kept in the magistrates court then the crown court will have more time to focus on the more serious matters, which will potentially assist to clear the backlog.
The Ministry of Justice say that all magistrates and legal advisors have been provided with further training ahead of the increased powers.

Our view on the likely impact of the change
It is widely accepted that conviction rates are much higher in the magistrates court. When a defendant is charged with an “either way” offence defendants have the option of electing to have a jury trial in the crown court. It is likely that the increased powers at the magistrates court may well lead to a higher number of defendants opting to have their case dealt with at the crown court, therefore not really alleviating the current strain.
The increase in powers is also likely to lead to an increased number of appeals from the magistrates court to the crown court.
This backlog is not just because of the Covid-19 pandemic but as a result of years of funding cuts.

Churchers create one of strongest criminal defence teams on the Island

by | May 13, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Churchers create one of strongest criminal defence teams on the Island Well-known Isle of Wight solicitor Barry Arnett has joined our criminal defence team on the Isle...

Will increased sentencing powers for magistrates solve the court backlog problem?

by | May 10, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Will increased sentencing powers for magistrates solve the court backlog problem? Churchers partner Hannah Jones doesn’t think so. Sentencing powers at magistrates’...

Managing Partner Retires After 30 Years

by | Apr 7, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Law firm Managing Partner hands over the reins 30 years to the day after he joined the firm Churchers Solicitors has today announced the retirement of Managing Partner...

Divorce Law Is Changing For The Better

by | Apr 6, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

From April 2022, there will be a long overdue change in the way that divorces proceed in England and Wales. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 (DDSA 2020)...

The Validity Of An Informal Will

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Lauren McIntosh, associate in our Wills and Probate team, makes an observation on a recent Australian case. A court in Queensland Australia has, this month, made an...

Patients Have A Right To All Relevant Information

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

A woman has won damages in a medical negligence claim on behalf of her son for injuries sustained at his birth. The case centred around  a doctor’s duty to take...

Holiday Sickness Claims On The Increase

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

UK holidaymakers returning from abroad are being warned about the consequences of making a false claim for sickness. In the past year, many thousands have made claims...

Do You Know Your Consumer Rights?

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

In 2015, the Consumer Rights Act came into force, aiming to make it easier for both businesses and consumers to get their heads around. In short, the Act covers the...

Right To Refuse A Business Tenancy Cannot Be Misused

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

An interesting case is currently making its way through the court system and may have far reaching implications for the landlord/tenant relationship in relation to...

Wills And Planning For The Future

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Partner John Cregan comments: “As lawyers we know how important it is to decide certain things in advance, get them down on paper, and plan these things properly.” The...

Is A Worker Employed Or Self-Employed?

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Following a recent high profile Court case, partner Andrew Bryan poses the Question “When is a worker an employee rather than a self-employed contractor?” This is an...

Commonhold – A Different Option For Owning Property

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Partner, Elizabeth Moger, comments that the Law Commission is asking flat owners, housebuilders, mortgage lenders and lawyers to help shape a law which could help...

Your Rights Do Not Depend Upon Your Knowledge Of Them

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

A recent ruling from the Court of Appeal has underlined the fact that a United Kingdom citizen’s rights do not depend upon their knowledge of them. Partner Andrew Bryan...

Do You Need To Insure Your Car If You Don’t Drive It?

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Partner, Hannah Jones, considers the implications of a recent ruling from the European court of Justice, which was asked “Do you need to insure a car that is kept...

New Service For Identifying Charitable Bequests

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Senior Probate Executive, Alanna White, comments on a new system alerting charities to when they have been left money in wills is to be established by HM Courts and...

Common Law Marriage – Does It Exist?

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Partner Leesa Clemow asks, “Does common law marriage exist?”  The short answer is “no”, however, almost half of people in England and Wales mistakenly believe that...

Top 10 Things To Think About When Buying A House

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

At Churchers our ' buying and selling your home team' have helped hundreds of people buy their first home. So we asked them for their top tips and here are the top...

Mental Patient Day Trip

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Ian Robinson, Managing Partner, reports on a case which potentially affects patients detained under the Mental Health Act  1993. A mental patient who has been granted...

When Is An Allotment Not An Allotment

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Matthew Bailey, Partner,  reports on an interesting decision affecting allotment holders.  According to the National Allotment Society: "An allotment is an area of...

Your Shoes Could Cost More Than Your Holiday This Summer!

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

During the Summer months especially, many motorists will hop into the driving seat of their car not giving a second thought to their foot wear. It is not illegal to get...

When And How Can You Challenge A Will?

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Losing a loved one can be an incredibly difficult and an emotional time for all those involved. When you combine these emotions with any potential problems that may...

Making Us Safe Online

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

The days of poison pen letters may be in the past but the tendency by some individuals to publish offensive comments about others is alive and, indeed, has increased...

Employee Email And Internet Use Checks

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

A recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights has provided further specific clarification of companies’ responsibilities in respect of their employee email...

Increased Statutory Legacy

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

If you die without having a valid Will in place, the law decides who inherits your estate. The relevant rules are known as the intestacy rules. For married couples or...

Winter Driving

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Solicitor, Adrian Dodd, provides some tips on winter driving With the worst weather of the year already upon us, it is worth being aware of some of the relevant driving...

Without Prejudice

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Do you know what the legal phrase “without prejudice” means? Partner, Matthew Bailey, says, “This is a term with a very specific meaning that is used by lawyers and is...

Coronavirus – Covid-19

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

The Government are releasing new information, guidance, and support each day and we have set out below some of the key schemes you may benefit from together with some...

Why Is Setting Up A Lasting Power Of Attorney So Important?

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

It is common knowledge that when you pass away you will require a Will to deal with your estate, but what about if your affairs need looking after on your behalf while...

Quicker Route For Separated Parents To Apply To See Their Children

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

It will be quicker and easier for separated parents to apply to see their children thanks to a new online service launched by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS)....

Can I Take My Child On A Summer Holiday If I Am Divorced Or Separated?

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

As we come out of lockdown and the pandemic eases, newly-divorced parents are advised to take extra care when taking their children abroad on summer holidays....

Importance Of Definitions When Holiday-Booking

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

A recent case has highlighted why it matters so much whether a holiday is a ‘package’ or just a booking of travel. A man and his girlfriend were seeking a ‘last minute’...

Things To Consider Before Making A Will

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

You should always seek full and proper advice from legal professionals before making a Will. To assist your legal advisors with preparing a Will which accurately...

Digital Assets In Your Will

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

In the modern day, it’s becoming increasingly important to include digital assets in Wills, and knowing whether these assets belong to you, or if you only own a...

Common Law Marriage – Does It Exist?

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Partner Leesa Clemow is often asked, “Does common law marriage exist?” Almost half of people in England and Wales mistakenly believe that unmarried couples who live...

HMRC’s Trust Registration Service – Doesn’t Affect You? Think Again

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

We’ve all been glued to the news over the last year and there has been a lot to take in; Covid, vaccines, driver shortages and rising fuel prices have filled the...

Plan To Tackle Drivers Of Crime

by | Feb 8, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Solicitor Sarah Hallett highlights some extra measures to keep prison leavers off the streets and stop further crimes,  that has been unveiled as part of...

Fault By Driver Required For Offence To Be Committed

by | Feb 2, 2022 | Industry News | 0 Comments

Partner Hannah Jones comments on a recent Supreme Court decision that a defendant who, whilst driving a vehicle without the consent of the owner, was involved in an...