Damian Green: unacceptable delays in Magistrates Courts. He is right to do so but, let's remember, there have been several quite recent 'initiatives' aimed at the same thing: Criminal Justice: Simple, Speedy, Summary (CJSSS); Making it Count (in Youth Courts); Stop delaying Justice and also considerable emphasis on Case Management.
The Defence Brief blog recently drew attention to some of the problems - Courts are a Farce. There is no reason to suppose that the inefficiencies referred to are all that unusual and the Justice Minister would do well to read it.
Anyone inclined to think that inefficiency is a recent innovation
should read a post on The Magistrates' Blog in May 2007 which drew attention to problems with the Crown Prosecution Service - CJSSS+CPS=SFA.
Since the Courts Act 2003, the Magistrates Courts have undergone profound changes in the way they are administered. These may not have been entirely for the better. Of course, as is so often the case, change has been piled on change with the system having to embrace court closures on a huge scale together with loss of experienced staff - a process which has probably not ended.
A further point well worth noting is that most of the problems lie with the professionals and NOT with the volunteer Justices of the Peace - those judicial beasts of burden who continue to serve so well. Attend any Magistrates' Court and the bench is always there to start hearings at the appointed time but so rarely is the professional side entirely ready.
Criminal offences are dealt with either by out of court methods (e.g. cautions, penalty notices etc) or by the Magistrates Courts or, for serious cases, by the Crown Court. The reality is that the vast majority of offences fall to be disposed of by the first two methods. The Magistrates Courts are therefore of critical importance to criminal justice and they merit better attention than they appear to be receiving.