A magistrate has claimed benches would like to send more offenders to prison but their hands are tied.
Jenny Rowe, who sits on the south Lincolnshire bench which covers courts including Spalding, has hit out at sentencing guidelines which mean JPs often have to dish out lighter sentences to those who they believe should be put behind bars.
Her comments came on Thursday at a Lincolnshire County Council Conservatives Big Conversation Roadshow, which invited members of the public to meet council leader Martin Hill and their county councillors to raise concerns.
Richard Davies – Conservative candidate for the new Police and Crime Commissioner role in Lincolnshire – was asked if he could put pressure on magistrates to hand out tougher sentences.
Mr Davies said: “The role does not allow that at the moment but I think that will change.
“When I speak to people, about 80 per cent of those who say they are unhappy with Lincolnshire police, when you delve further, are actually unhappy with the criminal justice system.
“We have to say as a society enough is enough and that the sentences handed out are not good enough.
“The judiciary seem to apologise for the criminals – I don’t know what planet they live on, but I am not interested in the offenders, the service is there to protect the innocent.
“More people who refuse to live by society’s rules should go to prison.”
Mrs Rowe, who is also a Sutton Bridge parish councillor, quickly sprang to the defence of magistrates, saying: “Until your Government gives us guidelines which allow us to dish out better sentences which would please the people in the street then we are stuck.
“I suggest you get that changed so we magistrates can give the sentences we want to these people who come up in court.
“I would be happy to send them to prison, and I think every magistrates would be, but our hands are tied.
“We need someone who knows what they are talking about setting the guidelines.”
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