Fedster + 1,307 Posted April 2, 2020 Share Posted April 2, 2020 More than 1,300 magistrates warrants issued every week but majority are for offences that could be heard in crown courts. Date - 2nd April 2020 By - Gary Mason Two thirds of the arrest warrants issued last year for people who did not turn up for their magistrates’ court hearing were for burglary and theft offences, Ministry of Justice figures show. A total of 70,586 failure to appear warrants were issued in magistrates' courts in 2019, the equivalent of 1,357 every week. With two million court hearings last year, it means that failure to appear warrants were needed for around 3.6% of cases. The warrants relating to theft and burglary non-appearance are cases that could be heard in either magistrates' courts or crown courts. The Greater London Criminal Justice Board issued the highest number of warrants, with 10,788 - almost three times as many as the second highest count, in West Yorkshire. But a legal charity has complained that the warrants are both a waste of police time and an unfair punishment. Penelope Gibbs, director of Transform Justice, said she was not convinced the "punishment fits the crime". She said failure to appear warrants are a poor use of police resources, particularly for people who "seldom pose an immediate threat to public safety". Though the number of warrants issued across the country has been gradually decreasing, Ms Gibbs said this was probably because magistrates dealing with less serious cases have been instructed to sentence people in their absence if they do not turn up. She suggested new approaches such as the use of text messages to remind people about trial dates and giving them a second chance to come to court if they can be reached by phone. "Someone who doesn't turn up for their court hearing may not have got the letter, or may have mental health problems or lead a chaotic life," she said. "They should of course turn up for their court hearing, but maybe the response to failure to appear may need to be different." But John Bache, national chair of the Magistrates Association, said the number of failure to appear warrants being issued is still very concerning. He said: "When people do not attend court when required to do so it leads to delays in the justice system, which is a waste of scarce resources and may also be upsetting for victims." A Ministry of Justice spokesman said the warrants ensure people attend court and prevent further delays, but that the decision to issue them is a matter for the independent judiciary. View On Police Oracle Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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