UK Liberty

Straw on the spot

Posted in law and order by ukliberty on February 12, 2009

Frances Gibb in the Times:

Magistrates have won a first-round battle over the growing use of on-the-spot fines, which they warn, are undermining public confidence in the justice system.

Last week Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, agreed to withdraw a list of 21 new offences that were to be dealt with by on-the-spot fines and said he would consult further. But possession of cannabis will still be punished by the controversial fixed-penalty notice — despite magistrates’ concerns over the mixed message that this sends out. …

The Magistrates’ Association said: “On the one hand the Government has reclassified cannabis from Class C to B, saying that it is a more serious offence. Yet at the same time, it says this can be dealt with by means of a penalty notice for disorder.

“The Government says that this gives the police more flexibility but the majority of cannabis offenders are drug addicts and need to be brought before the courts where treatment programmes can be arranged.” …

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