Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Shock findings

Apparently, magistrates ignore expert reports when sentencing young offenders, preferring to rely on their own "common sense" and defendants' backgrounds and previous convictions when determining sentence. Even more staggeringly, young offenders admit lying to both the courts and other bodies, like Youth Offending Teams, in an attempt to avoid harsher sentences. Jo Phoenix of Bath University, who conducted this ground-breaking research, fears that magistrates are relying on "little more than stereotypes" when making decisions. Obviously, they should be placing more importance on these expert reports, notwithstanding the possibility that the defendant has lied to the author in the hope of receiving a lesser sentence.

I'm not saying that magistrates always get it right - far from it. However, whilst they shouldn't just ignore YOT reports, they ought to be allowed to draw on their own experience and use their own discretion too. Otherwise there's not much point having them at all. Now there's a thought...

Thankfully, at least there is only reference to this being a problem in the Youth Court, so I can continue in my blissful delusion that the Crown Court is untroubled by such horrors as dishonest defendants and judges purporting to use their own common sense.

3 comments:

Law Minx said...

Hi LB,

Thanks for the kind words and the link. I've added yours to mine as well!

Minx

Barrister 2 B said...

I have just discovered your blog as well and have added a link.

cheers.

Smartie said...

>so I can continue in my blissful delusion that the Crown Court is untroubled by such horrors as dishonest defendants

LOL!