Whenever I look at the notice board when I arrive for a sitting and find that I am listed for a non CPS court I allow myself just a glimpse of an inner smile. To a large degree work based on CPS prosecutions whether trial or sentencing is to a certain extent formulaic. That is not to say routine. Formulaic in my opinion could be applied to heart surgery; there are well tried and trusted routes for the surgeon to explore in order to achieve his desired goal. In a trial court formulaic is to find whether the facts presented lead or not to a conclusion that the prosecution has proved its case beyond any reasonable doubt. Similarly when sentencing we are presented with an offender`s history and follow a structured pathway to determine matching crime to retribution. Non CPS sentencing is often a different matter. There are often cases when sentencing is not covered in sentencing guidelines and is a matter for the bench working from first principles to come to a conclusion which fits the crime, the criminal, considers the victim and society as a whole for which public protection is part of our remit.
My recollection of my last non CPS sitting was of a publican of previous good character who pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity to three counts of showing football on Sky TV without having a commercial license. I recall that after some debate about the route we should follow in concluding his fine and costs etc we decided that a figure of around Â£2,400 as memory serves was appropriate. It was therefore interesting to read these limited reports of similar offenders and the financial penalties they received at two different courts.
A simple conclusion from the above examples is that a bench of magistrates does not necessarily require a tick box bible to reach a just and equitable solution to a not uncomplicated sentencing exercise.