THE GUARDIAN IS SOFT ON CHRIS GRAYLING
"Eroding" access to justice is too generous a word to describe to the introduction of a surcharge in the Magistrates Courts by Chris Grayling, the Minister of Justice, of up to £1200 without any consultation just before the election.
"Abolishing" access to justice would be closer to reality. It devastates the poorest citizens who cannot pay for a TV licence, a bus or a train ticket, or whose children are persistent truants; they are are prosecuted as criminals.
Simultaneously the jobcentres are stopping people's incomes with a sanction from one month to three years. Sanctions are draconian punishments by the jobcentres without a fair trial.
If the magistrates are to take into account that loss of means and any vulnerable circumstances in setting a proportionate fine there has to be a trial. But the guilty and not guilty sanctioned persons are unlikely to go to court and risk the new surcharges.
They will therefore be fined £200 plus £150 costs in their absence, which they cannot pay. The enforcement process then leads to the bailiffs on the doorstep demanding immediate payment of the fine plus costs of £350 plus their fees of £265.
The surcharge should suspended immediately.