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MA in the media

Recent media coverage

12 May 2020
MA in the media

Following John Bache’s evidence to the Justice Select Committee on the impact of coronavirus on the justice system, the MA has appeared in several news outlets in relation to our call for the sentencing powers of magistrates to be extended to ease the court backlog. John’s comments were picked up in The Guardian and The Financial Times and he had an article published in The Times.

In the article, John reflected on the impact the coronavirus crisis has had on the courts, noting that while the number of cases coming through the criminal courts has been significantly reduced, the most urgent cases have continued to be dealt with and the courts are working hard to do more.

John points out that the already considerable number of cases awaiting trial is growing due to this crisis, and in order to address this he calls for magistrates’ courts to be able to retain more cases. This would require legislation to be enacted to allow magistrates’ court to impose custodial sentences of up to 12 months. While defendants would still have the right to choose a crown court trial, this would enable more cases to be dealt with by magistrates, meaning that many cases could be heard sooner and that crown courts could concentrate on the more serious crimes when jury trials resume.

The article argues that this change, which is already in legislation, would be a positive step to addressing court delays ‘without compromising the sacred principles that underpin our justice system’ and would make use of the lay magistracy, ‘who are eager to step up and help the courts to recover’.

John Bache was also quoted in an Independent article on the use of remote hearings, calling for a thorough assessment to be carried out of the current practices introduced in response to coronavirus, which are allowing almost all hearings to be dealt with remotely. John pointed out that just because technology was available, it did not mean it was appropriate to use it.

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