NEXT TWO MONTH'S MEETINGS

- 21st November - 8:15 : A Year in the Life of Mote Park.
- 12th December - 8:15 : Christmas Party - Bring a Friend.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Nothing to do on a morning in Maidstone? Try the Magistrates Court.

On 25th February, 11 of us gathered at the Magistrates Court 
at 9.30 am by prior arrangement. - 
NO! WE HAD NOT COMMITTED A CRIME.  
We had previously had a talk by a Probation Officer at our monthly meeting, and   we wanted to know more.   Two off duty magistrates met us and explained the workings of the Court. 

 Unfortunately no pictures allowed inside the court.  We were split into two groups and attended hearings in different courts. Magistrates give their  time voluntarily (at least 13 days a year)  and work for us - to make sure that the law is upheld and criminals, when brought before them are given a full hearing.  If found guilty they are punished either by a prison sentence, a period of community service,  a fine, or are referred to the Probation or other 'help' service who will it is hoped, help the guilty party to rehabilitate themselves and not  re-offend.   The case can also be handed over to the County Court (The other side of the River) for a later date.  We heard cases of non payment of Debt,  Family abuse, theft, affray - all different and fascinating.   In all the cases we heard the person pleaded Guilty which made proceeding relatively fast. Had a Not Guilty plea been  given it would have been very lengthy I am sure as witnesses would have been called. ,

Each case has a prosecutor, a defending barrister, The Clerk of the Court, three magistrates, and representatives of the Probation service or similar.   Anyone can go into the court any morning of the week. (after having been searched)  The Family court and juvenile courts do not allow this.
It was an eye opening morning, and everyone should spend at least one morning there to see how it is conducted.


Having worked hard absorbing everything that was going on around us we needed some lunch, and
moved on to County Hall, at the top of Week Street.  After signing in, we climbed the stairs to the Restaurant where hot and cold meal are served.  Rate payers are welcome any day, though if you are a group it is best to ring ahead with your order. Prices are moderate and there were no long queues.
The Restaurant is a lovely room, with high ceilings and moulding, and the staff were pleasant and helpful.  Do try it next time you are that end of Town.