He will double magistrates\’ sentencing powers, but prisons are already twice as full as when the Conservatives left power.
No, he\’s not suggesting that magistrates should be able to double the sentences for those crimes which come before them. He\’s suggesting that crimes which carry double the potential sentence that Magistrates can currently impose should be heard by Magistrate\’s Courts rather than Crown Courts.
There will be no increase in sentences: just a movement of cases from the horribly overburdened Crown Courts to the Magistrate\’s.
To clarify, crimes which carry a potential 6 month sentence are heard in the Magistrate\’s those with higher than that in Crown Court. Cameron is proposing that Magistrate\’s should hear more of extant cases, not that more cases be heard nor that sentences be increased.
There\’s a good civil liberties argument against this: which is that only in Crown Court can you get a jury trial. If you\’re potentially going to be locked up for a year, perhaps you ought to be able to insist upon a trial by your peers? Whether that argument against the idea holds up depends upon whether you\’ve still the choice as the accused to opt for Crown rather than Magistrate\’s.
In short, Polly\’s blathering because she\’s got the wrong end of the stick.