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Magistrates 'should be in police stations'

Magistrates should dispense on-the-spot justice inside police stations at peak times, the centre-right think-tank Policy Exchange has proposed. "Police Courts would mean much swifter justice for low-level crime," the report's author said.

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Police Courts would mean 'swifter justice'

There is currently a two-month delay from the time an offender is charged by the police to the sentence being handed down in a magistrates' court, the think-tank Policy Exchange said.

Max Chambers, head of crime and justice at Policy Exchange, and author of the report, said:

There is no good reason for our criminal justice system to operate in such a leisurely fashion.

Police Courts would mean much swifter justice for low-level crime, reflecting the fact that if a punishment is to be meaningful and actually change behaviour, it has to be delivered very quickly.

Putting magistrates in police stations will also bring much greater oversight to the use of cautions, about which there has been legitimate public concern.

As budgets are reduced dramatically, the courts system will inevitably have to change.

Fewer buildings will be part of the solution, but government must take care to protect the local justice landscape, underpinned by volunteer magistrates, that has served us so well for hundreds of years.

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