How Effective Is Stipendiary's Over Lay Magistracy?

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Throughout England and Wales there are estimated to be 23,000 lay magistrates. With that in mind it is not irrational to question their effectiveness or analyse their role. In this essay I will evaluate the good and the bad of the lay magistracy and analyse any alternatives that may be deemed appropriate. The most obvious benefit of the lay magistracy is the number of cases they see compared with District Judges (magistrates court), hereon to be referred to as stipendiary’s. This of course fuels the argument that there are inconsistencies within their sentencing yet in 1988 we felt it necessary to increase their workload, by making many more crimes summary offences, such as common assault and battery. This increase suggests that Parliament had…show more content…
The question is, why is this shift in appointment occurring? It could be that there is an argument in favour of stipendiary’s over lay magistrates for cost effectiveness. Although lay magistrates are unpaid volunteers and on the face of it £9.61 cheaper per appearance, they are able to claim expenses that their workplace may be unwilling to pay or travel expenses. When taking this into account and considering that stipendiary’s often deal with more cases per sitting Rod Morgan and Neil Russell calculated that lay magistrates are in fact more expensive than stipendiary’s. Yet one has to contemplate the further costs that come into effect. Morgan and Russell found that stipendiary judges ‘are almost twice as likely to remand defendants in custody’, ‘and they are also twice as likely to sentence defendants to immediate custody’. The Magistrates Court Service and Prison Service would incur greater costs as a result of this. For the Prison Service this is speculated at £30 million annually. Though how many cases would pass through the court annually? Would this cost be counterbalanced with the savings

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