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Greater sentencing powers: false hope for solving the backlog

Increasing magistrates’ sentencing powers will not solve the backlog. The announcement ignores the issues that have long plagued the justice system: draconian cuts to legal aid, the reduction in court sitting days and crumbling court buildings. All of which has resulted in intolerable working conditions.

On 18 January 2021, the Lord Chief Justice, Dominic Raab announced that the government intended to give magistrates greater sentencing powers. Under new proposals, magistrates will be able to hand down prison sentences of up to a year for a single offence, a measure which it has been claimed will provide vital additional capacity to drive down the backlog of cases in the Crown Court.

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