• Jessica Jacobs

Crown court backlog leads to Magistrates gaining the power to impose longer jail sentences



The pandemic has caused a significant backlog of cases for the Crown Court. To combat this, the government have granted Magistrates with the power to impose jail sentences for up to 1 year. This is double what it used to be.


At the moment, the Crown court hears all cases relating to crimes that have been sentenced to more than 6 months, but this is soon to change. Dominic Raab announced that magistrates will soon take on more responsibilities in sentencing serious cases, such as fraud, theft and assault.


These changes are set to roll out over the next couple of months, following extra Magistrate training provided by the Judicial College.


Bev Higgs, National Chair of the Magistrates Association, said: “We have been campaigning for years for magistrates’ sentencing powers to be extended to 12 months for single offences, so we are delighted with the Lord Chancellor’s announcement today. It is absolutely the right time to re-align where cases are heard to ensure a safe, effective, and efficient justice system and this demonstrates great confidence in the magistracy.”


Hopefully these changes alleviate pressure from the Crown court system and help to ensure the deliverance of more timely and effective justice as the pandemic continues.