I write regarding ‘New lease of life for specialist court idea’.
Been there, done it – at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court years ago. At least, a district judge was identified to sit in a designated court. That court was then peopled by police officers, probation officers, fines and fees enforcers and social workers. Every now and then they had something to do.
The challenge was topping up the list with remotely appropriate cases for interventions. This all coincided with the over-use of diversions at the police station phase – fixed penalty notices and cautions – too often in far-too-serious offence categories. No wonder the lists were too light for any meaningful impact. No holistic view was to be entertained.
I applaud the burgeoning sea change towards court-based community penalties, but naming a judge and dedicating a court is mere window-dressing.
New money is needed for court-monitored community disposals. Huge, net financial benefits from a reduced prison population are there to be had and rehabilitation would then have regained its dictionary meaning.
Malcolm Fowler, solicitor and higher-court advocate, Dennings, Tipton