Magistrates object to on-the-spot driving fines plan
Concern that fixed-penalty fines will make police 'jury and sentencer'
This is the Magistrate Association objecting to a plan to allow police to deal with minor careless driving offences with an on-the-spot fine and three points on the licence.
As I've mentioned before, a lot of the Magistrates Association's output makes me cringe. This is no exception.
If being "jury and sentencer" is a crime, then all magistrates are guilty. We establish guilt and we hand down the sentence and no-one seriously thinks that's an issue when we do it.
And anyway, the police aren't sentencing - they are handing out a fixed penalty notice that the recipient can refuse to accept if they wish to have their day in court.
Personally, I can't see what's wrong with the plan. Traffic offences (with a guilty plea) at the lower end are in any case a question of doing the sums from the guidelines, multiplying by the offender's fictional wage from the means form and swiping the offender's plastic.
I really can't put my finger on what value a court case would add.
And I can definitely see the costs.
This plan would :-
* Speed up the application of justice
* Cut financial costs
* Take pressure off the overloaded CPS
* Avoid dragging police off duty to attend court
I'm a Magistrate because I care about the criminal justice system. If I need to lose some of my "turf" to make it better, then I'm not going to whine.
The way I see it, we should be working with the police rather than seeing them as Competition and guarding our powers out of blind jealousy.