More than 50 magistrates are understood to have resigned from the bench in recent weeks amid an extraordinary judicial revolt against new court charges which critics claim encourage innocent people to plead guilty.
Pressure to reform the criminal courts charge, which was introduced earlier this year, has increased as more cases emerge of impoverished people being forced to pay hundreds of pounds for minor offences – in addition to any fines.
A Crown Court judge and Britain’s most senior criminal barrister have now joined those voicing opposition to the charge, which they say is “extremely unfair” and could “trigger more crime” when applied to the poorest in society by forcing them to steal to cover the cost of the penalty.
The Independent can reveal that defendants recently required to pay the charge include a man from Sunderland who threw himself in front of an off-duty policeman’s car in a suicide attempt.
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