MAGISTRATES are still the heart of criminal justice, according to Staffordshire’s police and crime commissioner.
Matthew Ellis (pictured) has welcomed government proposals that would see the level of fines that magistrates could impose on defendants increase from the current maximum figure of £5,000.
The biggest changes are likely to be made to crimes such as serious motorway speeding, driving without insurance and selling alcohol to a child.
Mr Ellis says that increased fines would be an effective deterrent in reducing the number of cases involving such incidents at magistrates’ court.
He said: “Crimes such as driving without insurance and selling alcohol to children strike a nerve with law-abiding people.
“Increasing magistrates’ powers to deal with these offences in a tougher way sends out a strong message that I support. Deterring offending is at the heart of my strategy to reduce crime and whilst fines and sanctions are only part of what needs to happen, this change can only help.”
He also said that there is still room to improve the way that the court system is joined-up from the offence being committed to prosecution and an appearance in court, speeding up the court process as a whole.