Giving magistrates more authority to try a wider range of cases

It was promised in Magna Carta that "To none will we delay, to none will we deny right or justice" but our courts are clogged up with a backlog of cases which is indeed causing delays.

To help address this it has been announced today that there will be an increase in magistrates’ sentencing power, allowing them give up to 12 month prison sentences – double what they can currently give – as part of a strategy to widen the range of cases they can deal with, thereby helping to drive down the backlog of court cases and speed up justice.

  • Magistrates are the lynchpins of our legal system – but the backlog of cases from the pandemic means we must take a fresh approach to delivering justice.
  • That is why we have doubled the sentence a magistrate can give from 6 to 12 months’ imprisonment – and they will now be able to sentence more serious cases such as fraud, burglary, and assault.
  • This will free up around 1,700 crown court sitting days a year, delivering the speedy justice that victims of crime deserve as we build back safer from pandemic.


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