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Judge hits back at claims.

Teesside's top judge has hit back at a police chief's claims that courts are letting crooks off the hook to commit crime sprees.

Judge Peter Fox QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, said he understands police frustrations when offenders are released from court on bail and re-offend.

But he stressed that magistrates have a difficult job deciding whether someone will re-offend if released and officers should provide better case files for Crown Prosecutors whose job it is to convince courts a defendant will commit more crimes.

He also said if police feel strongly enough about an offender being released on bail they can appeal before a judge at Crown Court - keeping the defendant in custody for an extra day.

Judge Fox was speaking out after Stockton's Chief Superintendent John Tough blasted the courts for letting prolific villains out on bail to go on crime sprees.

In a letter to the Gazette, Judge Fox said: "Chief Superintendent Tough's complaint is a valid one and your own comments perfectly fair.

"His officers are understandably frustrated when they arrest offenders, put them before a court which gives them bail, only to see them re-offend. But your readers should understand that magistrates have a difficult job weighing each side of the question whether or not the person before them is likely to get into further trouble.

"It also requires all aspects of our criminal justice system to operate efficiently. For that the police need to inform the Crown Prosecutor that the offender is a real risk and why they think so, and the prosecutor needs to persuade the magistrates that such is the case."

Mr Tough said his staff were "unsung heroes" whose hard work often comes undone when suspects appear before magistrates.
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Apr 28, 2004
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