MORE than 30 magistrates have resigned in protest at a new court charge introduced by the Treasury.
And last night another magistrate told the Sunday Express why he “could not work one more day” after being forced to apply the levy on a man on benefits who had stolen meat for his family.
The criminal court charge, which came into effect in April after being introduced by former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, ranges from £150 for anyone who pleads guilty to a summary offence at magistrates’ court up to £1,000 for those convicted after a trial of a more serious offence at magistrates’ court.
In the crown court, the charge ranges from £900 for a guilty plea up to £1,200 for conviction after trial.
The charges are not means tested.
Speaking last night Bob Hutchinson, who was deputy chairman of the Fylde Coast magistrates, Blackpool, told how he resigned his post in July after 11 years.
“I just couldn’t take it another day,” said Mr Hutchinson, 61. I agree that shoplifters who admit their crime, or who are convicted, should contribute to court costs in some way. We used to have discretion to set what we considered to be the right, and realistic, amount.But this new system is not means tested and it’s a big problem.After all, 85 per cent of those who came before me in Blackpool were on benefits.”
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