Needless long hours

first_img Kieran Fielding, Pearson Fielding, Liverpool I read the comments of both Nick Herbert and in relation to magistrates sitting at unsocial times and hours. I have little respect for Mr Herbert’s opinion that ‘swift justice is currently the exception…’. Is he unaware of the Criminal Justice: Simple, Speedy Summary (CJSSS) process? As an advocate in the magistrates’ court, I know that many cases are dealt with on their first appearance. I am aware of the reluctance of magistrates to adjourn CJSSS cases. In Merseyside we have also had a scheme piloting early guilty pleas in the Crown court. Defendants are often sentenced within two weeks of a committal to the Crown court. It is difficult to see how these magistrates’ courts sitting outside normal hours would have any impact upon the speed that cases are dealt with. I am not sure that I can respect Mr Thornhill’s view that the main concern here would be costs. Solicitors would end up working longer hours, probably for less money. Perhaps I have misjudged both gentlemen and it is in their minds that the legal aid fund would pay enhanced rates for those of us who have the misfortune to appear in the late-night and weekend sittings. Finally, in our area we have seen a drop in the number of cases appearing in court due to a combination of falling police numbers and the reluctance of the Crown Prosecution Service to charge. This begs the question, why would we need such courts?last_img