Call for longer sentences

Magistrates will call on the Government today to double their sentencing powers, in a move that could lead to fewer jury trials.

The 29,000 magistrates of England and Wales are allowed to impose maximum six-month sentences, but at their annual conference today in London they will recommend that this is doubled.

The move has won support from one key government adviser, raising the prospect of the issue being included in Kenneth Clarke's Green Paper, due next month.

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