Courts accused of wasting cash

Bridlington Magistrates Court
Bridlington Magistrates Court

Bridlington Magistrates’ Court contributed to wasting an estimated £230million of taxpayers’ money last year, according to a damning report by a national charity.

The Howard League for Penal Reform – which works to reduce crime and the number of people in prison – revealed 80.2% of defendants who were held in custody in East Yorkshire’s magistrates’ courts did not go on to serve jail time.

It argues the judiciary system is wasting money through a misuse of remand, with a national total of 71% of defendants remanded in custody not put in prison. Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League, said: “It is time to end this unjust system, which is costing the nation money that could be better spent.”

The charity reports that last year 135 people were held in East Yorkshire magistrates’ courts - Beverley and Bridlington, with 27 sentenced to immediate custody.

A spokesperson for the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary said: “Bail and remand decisions are a matter for the court in individual cases based on the facts that are presented to the court at the time of the hearing.

“The Bail Act 1976, as amended by the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 imposes a strict statutory framework within which courts must make their decision.”

The Magistrates’ Association (MA) - a body which represents Justices of the Peace in England and Wales - condemned the report claiming it is based on a misunderstanding of bail laws.

MA chair Richard Monkhouse JP said: “The decision to remand a person in custody is one of the toughest our members have to take, in doing so they are assessing risk and fulfilling their duty to apply the law.

“The suggestion that there is ‘widespread misuse’ of remand is misguided, very careful consideration is taken by our members when doing their job in administering the law.”