The Slow Death of British Justice

By Davis, Rowenna | New Statesman (1996), May 7, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Slow Death of British Justice


Davis, Rowenna, New Statesman (1996)


"Can we go in there?" mumbles Chris, nodding towards a pokey private office. The 15-year-o1d speaks through an overcoat zipped up past his mouth. His eyes dart around the waiting area in Willesden magistrates' court, north-west London. It's choked with people waiting for cases to be called and the atmosphere is tense. Since budget cuts forced this court to merge with others nearby, it's been heaving with young people from rival gangs, from territories such as Church Road, Stonebridge and Hendon. The threat of violence is real.

"I'm from Neasden, but I obviously don't come around here normally," says Chris once the door is shut. "Anything could happen. People can make a phone call and get people down. I was outside [court] once and a group of guys got out of a cab and chased me down the street."

Magistrates' courts don't deal with high-profile cases, but they matter. Although they mostly fall below the national media's attention, they make judgments on more than go per cent of criminal cases in England and Wales. Their focus is on serving justice locally. They confront the underbelly of our communities, dealing with antisocial behaviour, gang crime and vandalism. Most distinctively, their judgments are made entirely by volunteers. The magistrates passing sentences are ordinary people from local communities taking responsibility. They learn as well as contribute. It's a fantastic system, but it's being dismembered.

Some 103 of our country's 330 magistrates' courts are closing as a result of cuts. Many, such as those in Woking and Harlow, have already been boarded up. In Wales, Barry court took the Ministry of Justice to judicial review, but they were overridden in the high court. The surviving courts must deal with the backlog, and the result is a failing system. The cost of rearranging cases is soaring. Bureaucracy is increasing. Witnesses are not turning up. Kids are taking more days off school. Justice is suffering.

Defence campaign

With so much work being done by volunteers, our local justice system was an example of the Big Society at work. Its present woes are an indictment of the Tories and David Cameron in particular, who is criticised by his own backbenchers for failing to know what's worth protecting. Cutting 25 per cent from the Courts and Tribunals Service budget is a short-sighted saving that will come at great institutional cost in the long term.

"It's already taking longer for some cases to come to court," says John Fassenfelt, chairman of the Magistrates' Association, whose home town of Slough has gone from three courts to none. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Slow Death of British Justice
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.