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Criminal Courts Charge....more Magistrates resigning in protest.

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In March this year I started a thread about the introduction of the Criminal Courts Charge. A link is below.

 

As already mentioned in my above thread, Magistrates themselves are very concerned indeed about this additional charge that is added to all magistrate court fines and over the past few months there have been reports of Magistrates resigning. Thankfully the most recent resignation has been reported in the media:

 

 

 

 

Now George Lyons, a member of the bench in North Tyneside for 15 years, has turned his back on the role, and written to the Magistrates Association’s Magistrate magazine claiming the fees put pressure on people to admit crimes they did not commit in order to avoid a bigger bill.

 

“This is a terrible piece of legislation introduced through the back door,” wrote Mr Lyons, who fears the rules - which courts have no discretion over - could “criminalise many people because that is the option” for them.

 

“Justice is only going to be for those who can afford it.”

 

He is among 20 magistrates across the country to have told the Magistrates’ Association they were resigning amid fears that the system is now both convicting the innocent, and seeing many “uncollectable” fines issued - as many defendants are serial offenders on low incomes who will be unable to pay.

 

“I can fully understand magistrates resigning over this,” said Magistrates’ Association chairman Richard Monkhouse. “When courts impose fines, they take account of an offender’s ability to pay.

 

“Yet this charge offers neither judicial discretion nor means-testing at the point it is imposed and seeks to undo any attempts to be fair and proportionate. "He added: “There are already reports of people under pressure to plead guilty, particularly as they increasingly find themselves acting for themselves.”

 

The Association has told justice secretary Michael Gove of their concerns and want the charge - which comes on top of any fines, compensation for victims, the “victim surcharge, which funds victims’ services, or prosecution costs - to be reviewed after it has been in force for six months.

 

The fee starts at £150 for a guilty plea for a summary offence, rising to £180 for a guilty plea for a more serious, either way offence, where defendants have a choice whether to have their case heard at magistrates’ or crown court.

 

The surcharge increases to £520 for a conviction after a not guilty plea and trial for a summary offence and £1,000 for a conviction after a not guilty plea for an either way offence.

 

In the crown court, the charges are £900 for a guilty plea and £1,200 for conviction after a not guilty plea.

 

The charges have also been condemned by the Law Society, which represents 150,000 solicitors in England and Wales.

 

“We think that this charge is counterproductive and against the interest of natural justice,” said the organisation’s president Jonathan Smithers.

 

“It is a huge incentive for people to plead guilty when they may not be because these are significant amounts of money.”

 

The Government said it had introduced the charges because it “considers that convicted adult offenders who use our criminal courts should pay towards the cost of running them” - reducing the “burden” on the taxpayers.

 

 

 

 

 

For the full story see : - http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/north-tyneside-magistrate-resigns-over-9752472#ICID=FB-Chron-main

Edited by citizenB

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My original thread concerning the introduction of this charge can be read here and I pleased to see that it has already been viewed over 6.500 times.

 

 

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?443504-Criminal-Courts-Charge-to-be-added-to-all-Magistrate-Court-fines.

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Part of the austerity that some voted for at the general election.


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Part of the austerity that some voted for at the general election.

 

I'm not so sure that this is right.

 

This charge was introduced against much opposition by the previous government but I am pleased to hear that the charge (and other court charges) are to be looked at again by the government and there is now a 'call for evidence' by the Justice Select Committee. I intend making representation and I hope that the relevant enforcement companies do the same. I do not for one minute think that the charge will be removed and the best that can be hoped for is that it is lowered.

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I'm not so sure that this is right.

 

This charge was introduced against much opposition by the previous government but I am pleased to hear that the charge (and other court charges) are to be looked at again by the government and there is now a 'call for evidence' by the Justice Select Committee. I intend making representation and I hope that the relevant enforcement companies do the same. I do not for one minute think that the charge will be removed and the best that can be hoped for is that it is lowered.

 

Pretty sure the previous Justice secretary Chris Grayling was the person originally behind this.


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Will they try to add this to a Council Tax Liability Order, as it is obtained in a Criminal Court, if not now you can bet they will extend it to CTax LO's very soon if they can.


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It is only in the past couple of weeks that the full impact of the new Criminal Courts Charge has been noticed in the Magistrate's Courts and it would seem from the following news item that 30 Magistrates have now resigned.

 

 

 

 

The magistrates court system in England and Wales has been gripped by a growing crisis, with dozens of experienced magistrates resigning in a row over government imposed court costs.

 

The Criminal Court Charge was introduced by the Ministry of Justice in April as a means of ensuring that convicted adult offenders pay towards the cost of running the criminal justice system.

 

Many magistrates are angry that they have been given no discretion in determining who should pay the new costs and they claim many offenders simply do not have the means to pay.

 

In recent weeks more than thirty magistrates have quit, with many more threatening to resign unless the government changes the system to allow judges and magistrates discretion in applying the charge.

 

Bob Hutchinson, a magistrate in Blackpool for the past 11 years, is one of those who has stepped down.

 

He told Sky News: "When they imposed this criminal court charge that was mandatory in April of this year, that was the last straw for me and I felt that I couldn't make a difference anymore and I decided that I had to go."

 

The new charges mean anyone who pleads guilty to an offence at a magistrates court has to pay a proportion of the court's costs, around £150. If they are found guilty after trial, that charge increases to £520. If it goes to crown court, a guilty offender can expect to be charged up to £1,200 on top of any fine, compensation and other related charges.

 

Mr Hutchinson said: "In this court in Blackpool, 85% of offenders are on benefits and they have limited means. So there's got to be more creative means of raising money. Punish offenders by all means and punish them appropriately, but this is not the answer. We all understand that costs need to be cut around the country. Austerity measures are in place and I totally agree with them. But this is a futile, knee-jerk reaction in trying to gain money that isn't there."

 

For the full story - http://news.sky.com/story/1536401/magistrates-courts-in-crisis-over-govt-costs

Edited by citizenB

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Can I just remind caggers that we are not permitted to copy and paste entire articles from newspaper articles/other sites.

 

15% - 25% plus a link to the article is all that is allowed.


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I wonder how long it will be before the Tories start tendering out the Position of "Magistrate" to private companies, wouldn't be hard, just make providing Outsourced Magistrates Services part of the Contractual Obligation for the new privatised Fines collection and administration service.

 

What I would like to know is, if before the CCC Defendants were not "paying for the use of the Court" Then what exactly were the "Court Costs" that get added to a conviction's compensation order?

 

It seems now you get:

Court Costs - for running the court

followed by Criminal Courts Charge, so charging for the same thing twice

Fine

Victim Surcharge

 

How on earth they think putting people who are generally either working poor or on benefits into even more debt is a good idea, I don't know. I wouldn't be surprised if it was purely to increase the revenues and profits of the Private Company taking over fines collection. In fact, the CCC is probably to make up for the giant hole in MOJ Finances, that the private company will cause. We have seen it in every single privatised state service, rather than increasing revenues to the taxpayer, the private companies end up costing the taxpayer even more.


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This is just a continuation of the campaign to withdraw justice from the poor (and undoubtedly more to come if we withdraw from the EU convention on human rights). Legal aid has been cut back to the bone, so it's now even more difficult to get decent representation if you're poor (not that the representation was that good before). so the person goes to court with either poor or no representation. If they have a rep they will be encouraged to take the plea and get the lower fine. If they decide to go forward and plead innocence, there is a good chance that they or their rep will lack the skills (or in the rep's case the motivation or time) to be able to prove they are not guilty, and so get the higher fine for being innocent. And even if guilty, the majority of crimes are committed due to poverty, drug addiction or mental health problems, so the fine for a guilty fee ends up being a fine on a condition that they find themselves unable to escape from. Previously judges/magistrates could use discretion on cases, but now find themselves in the first step towards a mandatory minimums system, such as they have in the USA. First we have mandatory fines, and next mandatory sentencing with no discretion for certain crimes.

 

And the kicker is that someone wealthy is much less likely to be prosecuted in the first place (legal arguments from high paid legal meaning the case isn't prosecuted), and even if it does go forward, their solicitor/barrister is highly paid, very motivated and with ample time and is much more likely to get a not guilty verdict. My understanding is that there are specialist firms dealing with certain driving offences who have a near 100% success rate, but of course this costs. And then on the rare occasion they are fined, it would be paid the same day with no stress or strain.

 

The people making this legislation are the wealthy. They have no idea what it's like to be poor or struggling. They believe poverty, drug addiction, poorly managed mental health is a morality issue and that people are in this situation by their own actions. so they probably see the fines as part of their 'stick and stick' program (no carrots). Hit them with a stick and they'll get better, behave better. They probably believe they're doing us a favour - I know IDS thinks so with his benefit reforms.

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The haves and the have nots, and how the law views them differently.

 

In this case ('Outrageous' sum spent) NHS paid £10,852 to a locum consultant to cover a weekend shift and was required to do nothing.

 

In this case (_1_4197131"]benefit cheat) it took the council tax benefit claimant 8 years (not just a weekend) to obtain a similar amount but for doing so received a suspended prison sentence.

 

The benefit claimant is branded a criminal and a cheat. Why is the consultant not branded a cheat? The potential loss to the public purse is the same in both cases.

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hence the governments (s) have no qualms about squandering other peoples money . if we did it would be called fraud!


:mad2::-x:jaw::sad:

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I wonder how long it will be before the Tories start tendering out the Position of "Magistrate" to private companies, wouldn't be hard, just make providing Outsourced Magistrates Services part of the Contractual Obligation for the new privatised Fines collection and administration service

 

In fact a similar scenario is already planned under the proposed part privatisation of the magistrate court fine enforcement work. Under this the role of the Fines Officer will be outsourced to a private company. The contract has not been signed as of yet but is imminent.

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The haves and the have nots, and how the law views them differently.

 

In this case ('Outrageous' sum spent) NHS paid £10,852 to a locum consultant to cover a weekend shift and was required to do nothing.

 

In this case (_1_4197131"]benefit cheat) it took the council tax benefit claimant 8 years (not just a weekend) to obtain a similar amount but for doing so received a suspended prison sentence.

 

The benefit claimant is branded a criminal and a cheat. Why is the consultant not branded a cheat? The potential loss to the public purse is the same in both cases.

 

They are not really the same situation. The Consultant was asked to be there for a shift, and he was there, it is not his fault that in the end there was no work to do, they required someone there, and paid for the necessity of having someone there, in case "work" did come in. If anyone has behaved wrongfully, it is the HR Department for paying such huge fees to agency staff. If you read the article he was paid to be on call, and that is what he was, so he has not behaved unlawfully or dishonestly.

 

I have had well paid jobs, and some shifts had absolutely nothing to do, should I have asked my employer not to pay me for those shifts? I worked nights for Leeds Council's Emergency Phone Line, dealing with tenants whos boiler had broken down out of hours, liaising with Police/Emergency Services and Highways when there were traffic accicdents, or major incidents. I worked a 12 hour day shift one Xmas Day, and the same on Boxing Day and was on triple pay (£33 an hour!) there were about 8 phone calls between the whole 24 hours I was on call, was I dishonest? I was paid to be there, and I was there, it wasnt our fault hardly any work came in.

 

The Benefits Fraudster was actively and knowingly committing Fraud, not just once, but continually for 8 years!!! Absolutely right he was prosecuted.


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Absolutely Caledfwlch, you were being paid the agreed rate for the job, no fraud there. The UK is rapidly going down the road illustrated by Paul Verhoeven films, OCP and Robocop springs to mind with large Corporations calling the shots, Fiction OCP, fact Capita?

 

These charges and the poors inability to pay will mean more people being committed to prison for non payment, so a sort of re-introdction of debtor's prison.


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Obviously missed the point. It was not so much the issue that there was no work to do. You can hardly call £11k for a weekend's cover a fair wage when its taxpayer's money whether the consultant worked all 24 hours or none of them. It might not be fraud but it is greed.

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Obviously missed the point. It was not so much the issue that there was no work to do. You can hardly call £11k for a weekend's cover a fair wage when its taxpayer's money whether the consultant worked all 24 hours or none of them. It might not be fraud but it is greed.

And stupidity, the clown NHS managers offering that in the first place, they should be sacked sadly their sort are usually untouchable.


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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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Obviously missed the point. It was not so much the issue that there was no work to do. You can hardly call £11k for a weekend's cover a fair wage when its taxpayer's money whether the consultant worked all 24 hours or none of them. It might not be fraud but it is greed.

 

Its more stupidity on the HR managers behalf. If they didnt pay it, agency staff wouldnt demand it.

 

Would you honesty turn down £10,000 for 24 hours work?

 

Here in mid wales, we have a GP out of Hours, based in the hospital, they get paid a couple grand a shift, and some of the Doctors are Polish and German, and live in Poland and Germany, they fly over, work 5 or 6 nights, for 2 grand a pop, then fly home and have a week or two off.


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Would you honesty turn down £10,000 for 24 hours work?

 

If it was taxpayer's money I would have to think very carefully before criticising anyone (benefit claimants), in the way council spokespersons do, for diverting money away from vital services.

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Thread moved to the appropriate forum.

 

Andy


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The matter of the Criminal Court Charge (of £150) is of vital importance and I am pleased to see that my initial thread on the subject below and this later one have been viewed over 10,000 times.

 

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?443504-Criminal-Courts-Charge-to-be-added-to-all-Magistrate-Court-fines

 

In the past few months many magistrates have resigned at the unfairness of this charge and there have been frequent media articles. In addition, many organisation (and individuals) have lobbied the government and their MP's and thankfully these representations have led to the Criminal Courts Charge being debated in the House of Lords to seek to have the charge removed. The result being that the Government LOST the vote !!!!

 

Criminal Court Charge Regret Motion debate

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The Government faced this being taken to the CJEU by Liberty as a travisty of a fair and open justice system.

 

People who were innocent were being pressurised to plead guilty simply due to the financial implications on a guilty conviction.

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Justice is just a money making machine - no money no justice --- thats what you get here,


:mad2::-x:jaw::sad:

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I was wondering if their is a link to fines collections being outsourced to a private contractor being abandoned

 

Talk about a conflict of interest. A private company profiting through an unjust fines system being imposed?

 

This Government must think we are all stupid not to notice

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