Ministers are to set put forward a White Paper with the theme “Swift, Sure Justice” which will unveil plans to see magistrates sit on their own in community centres or police stations; in an effort to speed up justice.
Under the proposed plans, which are backed by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and are expected to be included in the Queen’s Speech; instead of the traditional bench of three, a single magistrate will be able to deal with simple, uncontested cases involving a guilty plea.
It is hoped that the proposals will not only put magistrates back into the heart of communities, but will also cut the average time between an offence being committed and its disposal, from the current levels of 140 days.
The plans come after Justice Minister Nick Herbert said last year: “We need a radical rethink about how to deliver an effective system of summary justice that will involve magistrates and localise justice.”
Should the proposals be implemented, it is hoped that magistrates will be able to deliver justice more flexibly and swiftly, in a similar way to how the dealt with the riot suspects last summer; with sittings taking place in varied locations including community centres and police stations, as well as via live video link to cells.
Chairman of the Magistrates’ Association, John Fassenfelt, said: “We support these measures to make justice swifter and to put magistrates back into the heart of the community and recognise the valuable role they play in community justice.”