Community organisations to advise magistrates

Community organisations will be able to advise magistrate’s courts on unpaid work options for offenders before they are sentenced, under government plans unveiled today.

Local residents will also be asked to tell courts about the impact of crime in their areas before sentencing as part of measures being rolled out with the introduction of 10 new community court pilots in England and Wales. 

The measures aim to help magistrates and judges make better decisions in cases where there are incidents in housing estates or villages affecting resident’s quality of life including public nuisance, vandalism, graffiti or property damage.

Constitutional Affairs Minister Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP said:

“At present, an individual victim can explain to the court the impact of an offence. But there is no mechanism for the community as a whole to tell the court how a crime has affected them. This initiative will help the court understand the effect of the crime on the local community.

“We will be trying out how community groups like the parish council or tenants’ and residents’ associations will be able to tell the court about how crimes affect the local community.”

She added: “Unpaid work can help local communities and give offenders experience of work. But it should be work that the local community tells the court that it wants done and the local community must be able to see that it has actually been carried out.”


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