Prisoners released after short sentences will be jailed for up to two weeks if they breach new supervision orders, Damian Green, the Justice minister, has announced.
Offenders serving short custodial sentences will be subject to supervision in the community and should they not comply with the supervision requirements, magistrates will have new powers to deal with them, including sending offenders back to custody for up to a two weeks.
Provisions in the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 mean that for the first time offenders who go to jail for less than twelve months will be supervised in the community for one year after the end of their custodial sentence. Following a period on licence they will have a further period of rehabilitative support in the community. Offenders who breach the conditions of such supervision, for example by failing to attend a drug or alcohol rehabilitation programme can be brought before magistrate sand face returning to prison for up to two weeks. They could also face fines, curfews and made to do community work.
Justice Minister Damian Green said:
“Since 1285, magistrates have played an important role in administrating local justice. They are the cornerstone of the Criminal Justice System, and bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience from outside the legal system.”
Thankfully crime is falling, but we must make sure that the role of magistrates continues to reflect modern society and we use their expertise to address stubbornly high reoffending rates. This new power will mean magistrates can help us respond quickly to offenders who breach their supervision conditions and help keep them on the straight and narrow.
Mr Green also indicated that a new single magistrate procedure is being considered, so they can deal with cases on their own, rather than in a bench of three when dealing with low level regulatory cases. At present a great deal of magistrates’ and court time is currently spent going through cases where the defendant has either not responded or has entered a guilty plea by post.
Mr Green also signaled changes to magistrates recruitment in a bid to improve diversity and make them more representative of the communities they sit in. He revealed he is considering proposals such as limiting the period a magistrate can sit to ten years and requiring candidates to show a rounded knowledge of local issues when applying.