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MA responds to The Project for Modern Democracy's report on Remaking the Magistracy

14 October 2019
MA responds to The Project for Modern Democracy's report on Remaking the Magistracy

The Project for Modern Democracy have published a report on Remaking the Magistracy: The Role and Potential of Magistrates in the Criminal Justice System. The report evaluates the strengths of England’s unique lay magistracy model and concludes that, despite challenges, it still provides a valuable community link in a justice system that has become less transparent, less local, and more professionalised. It also concludes that, without reform, the role of magistrates will face further decline and the wider contribution they make to community safety will not be realised.

Responding to the report, John Bache, National Chair of the Magistrates Association, said:

"The MA have been calling for the government to develop a detailed strategy for the magistracy for some time. It is important magistrates are involved in the changing face of justice, and this report provides some interesting proposals to kick-start discussions.

"We welcome the positive mention about the potential that problem solving could have to support early intervention and rehabilitation. We agree that magistrates have a key role to play in implementing such approaches and would welcome the opportunity to discuss ways forward for reviewing sentences and focusing more on problem solving.

"We also support the recommendation that magistrates should be able to retain more cases by having sentencing powers up to 12 months custody.

"We are concerned, however, that some of the recommendations around the governance and recruitment of magistrates may not be workable. In addition, it is vital that magistrates, as members of the judiciary, remain independent from the police and therefore PCC involvement in the selection and governance of magistrates would be completely inappropriate."




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