A leap forward in the courts from a magistrates blog

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Leap Forward

I have been shown a confidential internal document from the MoJ that sets out some truly original thinking; blue-sky, outside-the-box stuff.

The document states the obvious fact that the public has little confidence in the justice system. Courts are seen as out of touch, and punishments are seen as half-hearted and soft.

This needs to be addressed, so Jack Straw has decided to give the editors of The Sun and the Daily Mail seats ex-officio on the Sentencing Guidelines Council as People's Tribunes. They will also sit as lay assessors in the Court of Appeal when it considers sentences that have been referred to it as unduly lenient.

This is expected to have a two-way beneficial effect. The voice of the man in the street will be heard at the point where sentencing policy is decided, and the readers of two popular tabloids will get up to date stories about how the system is clamping down on thugs yobs lags terrorists and the like.

It could work. Anyone who saw tonight's documentary about Holloway will understand the awesome power of the tabloids - a single rant about a Halloween 'party' in the prison prompted Straw to intervene and forbid any more events like it. The prison's staff had to spend the best part of a day away from their real jobs in a damage-limitation exercise. So let's see how it goes. An announcement in Parliament is expected before 12 noon tomorrow.