During the pandemic we have seen ever-lengthening waits for cases to come before the courts. This is poor justice. We could speed things up and improve the service in two ways:
1. Currently all magistrates (and I am one) must retire on their 70th birthday. This is at odds with the rule that members of the public can serve on a jury until the age of 75. As there appears to be a shortage of JPs because of Covid, why not allow magistrates to continue until 75 too? (Most magistrates I know are reluctant to leave, and have years of wisdom and experience to offer.)
2. Now that we are no longer bound by EU laws and regulations and can return to the excellent principle of trial by peers who can (in theory at least) decide on appropriate sentences, why not also make trials more local by using for example village halls or other public buildings? The reorganising of judiciary area boundaries has meant that court appearances often take place many miles from people‚’s homes. (And some magistrates too have to travel long distances to court – Newcastle to Berwick for instance.) This leads to hardship and non-attendance for those living in our most socially deprived areas, and wasting valuable police time in issuing warrants.
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