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Commissioner welcomes increase in Magistrate sentencing powers to provide justice for victims

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, John Dwyer has welcomed the news that Magistrates will be given more powers to jail offenders for longer, helping to deliver justice for victims of crime.

The government has announced that it will give Magistrates in England and Wales greater sentencing powers which will mean they are able to jail offenders for up to 12 months. Previously, Magistrates were only able to jail offenders for up to six months.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the court system has faced a backlog which it is still trying to clear, but the move to increase Magistrates’ powers will enable them to hear and sentence more cases, freeing up time in higher courts.

John Dwyer, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said: “In my Police and Crime Plan I talk about delivering justice for victims and this move will make it that much easier. Reducing pressure on the Court system is key. It’s not right that victims at all stages of the process have had to wait long periods of time to get their cases heard.”S

The Ministry of Justice estimates that doubling the length of the jail sentence that Magistrates can hand out could prevent about 500 cases – including fraud, theft and assault – from going to Crown Court, giving judges there an estimated 2,000 extra days to handle more serious crimes.

As of the end of June 2021, 60,000 Crown Court trials were waiting to be heard. This was said to be a record. However, the repercussions of this meant that many victims towards the back of the queue were having their cases pushed back to 2023.

John Dwyer added: “In some instances, court cases and hearings have been pushed back multiple times and this can have a detrimental impact on the well-being of a victim. Waiting years for your case to come to court can put people’s lives on hold, which doesn’t help them to process and recover from the ordeal they suffered. That isn’t justice.

“In order for victims of crime to have confidence in the criminal justice system, they must feel listened to, taken seriously and supported. This move shows that steps are being taken to support them in their time of need.”

You can read more about the change to Magistrates’ powers at:

www.gov.uk/government/news/magistrates-courts-given-more-power-to-tackle-backlog

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