Where, pray, is the evidence that there is any public clamour for longer court hours? It has always been and remains preposterous to claim that any category of court user in the criminal sphere yearns for traumatic extensions to the daily court ordeal. Stress is the name of the game for both complainants and defendants and, come late afternoon, everyone needs to regroup in the interests of continued psychological wellbeing and of justice.
Where, also, are the transparent costings of the hidden additional expenditure in extended working hours for prison escort and premises security staff, additional heating and lighting, and doubtless overtime for court staff? Also casually passed over is the consideration that, inside current working hours, most magistrates’ courts are operating at a fraction of their potential capacity.
From Tony Blair’s madcap notion years ago ‘inspired’ by the sparse justice meted out in the impersonal New York night courts, this continues to be about the gratuitous and ‘justice-lite’ warm glow savoured by one government after another over an exhibition of its machismo. Any attraction to the public would be killed stone dead were the true extent of the additional unproductive expense made generally known.
Malcolm Fowler, solicitor and higher-court advocate, Birmingham