Magistrates could get only half a day’s training on new powers that will enable them to hand out longer prison sentences.

Lord chancellor Dominic Raab unveiled plans in January to double the current six-month prison sentence that can be handed down by magistrates to help drive down the Crown court backlog - a move that has not been widely welcomed.

The Ministry of Justice’s press release stated that ‘proper training will need to be completed by magistrates before this change can come into effect’.

The training will be provided by the Judicial College, which has reportedly issued a notice on its learning management system about the launch of ‘increased sentencing powers training’ for magistrates and legal advisers sitting in the criminal jurisdiction.

‘This new training is essential for those magistrates and legal advisers. It will take approximately ½ day to complete, must be completed prior to implementation of the provisions (25 April 2022) and will be followed by webinars arranged locally in April/May. (This eLearning is modular and progress will be saved so it does not have to be completed in one sitting,’ the notice says.

The Judicial Office said the Judicial College is responsible for the training of magistrates, which is led by the judiciary, and they consider that the training provision is appropriate.

The Ministry of Justice told the Gazette the changes will be introduced via commencement regulations ‘in the coming weeks’ but an exact date is still to be confirmed. Commencement regulations are statutory instruments that brings into force part or all of another piece of legislation at a date later than the date it became law.


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