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Live Reporting

Pete Cooper

All times stated are UK

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  1. Today's coverage

    The Local Live page for Northamptonshire has finished for today.

    We'll be back tomorrow from 08:00 with all the latest news, weather, sport and travel for the county.

  2. Evening weather: Dry tonight a bit of cloud tomorrow

    BBC Weather

    It will be a dry evening and night, although for most it will remain rather cloudy with a minimum temperature of 10C (50F).


    Most places will see a fair amount of cloud once again tomorrow although with the cloud being fairly thin, we should see some bright or sunny spells develop at times with a maximum temperature of 16C (61F).

  3. Justice Minister wants 'a system that is less stressful for all concerned'

    Pete Cooper

    BBC Local Live

    Justice Minister Shailesh Vara said the delays in Magistrates' Courts, which figures show are getting worse, were not "acceptable".

    Justice Minister Shailesh Vara
    Quote Message: The magistrates are stating the obvious. There are delays. We know that. We want to make sure that delays are minimised if not eliminated completely, because it is important that justice takes place efficiently and properly and to make a system that is less stressful for all concerned. from Shailesh Vara Justice Minister
    Shailesh VaraJustice Minister
  4. Courts: Are the increasing lengths of court cases down to cuts to the system?

    Pete Cooper

    BBC Local Live

    The Crown Prosecution Service nationally has seen its budget cut by 30% in the last five years with a loss of almost 3,000 staff meaning there are less people dealing with cases. The probation service has undergone a number of changes and restructuring and there have been to cuts to legal aid.

    Victim support

    This summer, the charity Victim Support said delays at crown courts are now the worst they’ve been for 15 years and it’s having a detrimental effect on the innocent people caught up in crime.

  5. Northampton Magistrates' Court: 'No-show' in last case of the day

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    At Northampton Magistrates' Court it's the last case of the day.

    But unfortunately it will be adjourned as the defendant hasn't turned up at court.

  6. Northampton Magistrates' Court: Drunk and disorderly case adjourned for two months

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    The next case is a man charged with being drunk and disorderly.

    The defence solicitor says the defendant may have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and shouldn't live on his own.

    The chairwoman of the magistrates adjourns the case for two months while the defendant gets medical help.

  7. Police identify pilot who died in crash at Hinton-in-the-Hedges

    Richard Haugh

    BBC News

    Adam Abraham, 39, from south-west London has been named as the pilot who died after the light aircraft he was flying crashed at Hinton-in-the Hedges airfield, near Brackley, Northamptonshire, on Friday.

    Hinton-in-the-Hedges airfield

    East Midlands Ambulance Service arrived at the airfield "within minutes" after 12:10 but could not save him.

    The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is leading the investigation into the crash with local police.

  8. Northampton Magistrates' Court: Assault case back in court after seven months

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    The next case is that of Michael Percival, which first went to court almost seven months ago. He's up for sentencing for assault by beating.

    The assault, in which Percival threw a purse at his girlfriend and hit her on the legs, took place on February 3. Percival pleaded guilty eight days later.

    It seems the probation report includes too much information and should only have concentrated on the facts relating to the basis of Percival's plea.

    Percival is sentenced purely on basis of that plea and given a fine of £285 plus court costs, to be paid at a rate of £40 per week.

  9. How a magistrates' court works

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    This BBC article gives an overview of how a magistrates' court works and the people who appear there.

    Magistrate Valerie Murray-Chandra

    Although it was written in 2010 and refers to the magistrates' court at Highbury Corner, north London, the protagonists within the court would still be the same throughout the country now.

    And interestingly it came at a time when the government had revealed 93 magistrates' courts were to be closed in England and Wales - a further 91 face the same threat now.

  10. Courts: Gove wants to digitise the justice system

    Pete Cooper

    BBC Local Live

    Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove wants £700m invested in what he has called our “dysfunctional, creaking and outdated” court system.

    Michael Gove

     He wants to see courts digitised to speed up trial procedures – meaning lawyers and staff can use email instead of printing everything off on paper.  

    Greater use of video and conferencing technology in court rooms is another plan - so evidence can be given remotely from say a police station, rather than an officer having to spend a day in court.

  11. Northampton Magistrates' Court: Nothing happening but it's 'plush and spacious'

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    I've returned to Northampton Magistrates' Court and sat in Court Six for five minutes and nothing happened, so I moved to Court One and nothing is happening here either.

    Court One is as plush and spacious a magistrates' court as I've been in. I would love to take a picture to show you, but sadly taking photographs in court is illegal.

  12. Courts: Local justice is going to die

    Corby Magistrates' Court takes 108 days on average to process cases – one of the slowest courts in the country, and it could close as part of a plan to modernise the justice system, and local magistrates say that justice is going to suffer.

    Terry Knights
    Quote Message: Magistrates have been going since 1361 and bringing people to court to deliver local justice and that is going to die - and local justice is effective justice because it can take place quickly - if it’s dealt with by local people, in a local court. The population of these towns want this. from Terry Knights Corby Magistrates' Bench chairman
    Terry KnightsCorby Magistrates' Bench chairman
  13. Pilot who died in accident on Friday has been identified

    Sarah Foster

    BBC Radio Northampton

    The pilot who died in an accident at Hinton-in-the-Hedges on Friday has now been formally identified as 39-year-old Adam Abraham.

    Mr Abraham lived in south-west London.

    He died after the light aircraft he was flying was involved in an accident at the south Northamptonshire airfield just after noon on Friday.

  14. Courts: What is causing the delays in Northamptonshire?

    Pete Cooper

    BBC Local Live

    Last year the CPS in Northamptonshire was singled out by government inspectors as needing to improve – to work more efficiently and reduce delays.


    But most of the problems in the county’s courts are replicated nationally - the right people, such as translators, witnesses or defendants, not turning up for hearings; delays in preparing the prosecution case; paperwork not in order; or video links not working.

  15. Courts live: Why are we doing it?

    Pete Cooper

    BBC Local Live

    Figures obtained by the BBC show lengthening delays in the time taken for cases to be dealt with by magistrates. Funding cuts have contributed to what some are calling a ‘postcode lottery’ in the administration of justice.

    All through today on Local Live we'll be looking at our courts and how they work and why there are delays.

  16. Northampton Magistrates' Court: Mail theft case can't go ahead

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    The court is hearing the case of a man who had been arrested on a 'no bail' warrant. He should have been at court on 23 August regarding theft of a mail bag.

    He was apparently sent a letter telling him to attend court, but was registered as no fixed abode so he couldn't have got it.

    The duty solicitor says he cannot deal with the theft of a mail bag case as the defendant has already been given advice at a previous hearing.

  17. Courts only open two days a week

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    Corby and Wellingborough Magistrates' Courts are among the ten slowest magistrate court justice areas in England.

    Scales of Justice

    Yet both courts are only open two days a week. This week Corby is open on Wednesday and Friday, and Wellingborough on Monday and Thursday.

    Corby, along with Kettering Magistrates' Court, is among 91 nationally earmarked for closure.

  18. Delays in Northamptonshire's courts: Your comments

    Today we've been looking at figures obtained by the BBC, which show lengthening delays in the time taken for cases to be dealt with by magistrates.

    You've been sending us your comments:

    Catherine Dartnell writes on Facebook: "Sometimes, due to multiple failings, cases are postponed then "thrown out" of court - maybe to make their figures look better?"

    To let us know your thought then email me, head to Facebook or tweet using the hashtag #slowjustice

  19. Going through the courts: 'You don’t know what’s happening'

    Pete Cooper

    BBC Local Live

    The mother of a teenager stabbed to death by hisbest friend has told BBC Northampton the court system “takes over your life”.

    Stanley Harrison

    Alison Harrison was speaking after it was revealed it has taken an average of 88 days for cases to progress through the court system in Northamptonshire this year.

    She said: “You don’t know what’s happening. You don’t know what to do. It’s really difficult and you’ve got that weight over your head. It just takes over your life.”

  20. Northampton Magistrates' Court: Man sent 'love letter' to woman he's accused of beating

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    Up in court now is a man accused of breaching his bail conditions. He was originally accused of assault by beating on July 7, pleaded not guilty and was released on conditional bail.

    The prosecution says he sent a "love letter" to the woman he's accused of beating and this was the first time he has breached bail conditions.

    The woman says she is worried his behaviour may escalate. The accused admits he sent the letter.

  21. Northampton Magistrates' Court: Driving with due care and attention case to be heard in November

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    The next is a case of a man - it's been all men so far - accused of driving a 'superbike' without due care and attention.  

    An afternoon has put aside on November 12 to hear the case in full.

    The same man is also accused of criminal damage and assaulting a police officer - the allegation is he threw plates at them, with those charges to be tried on December 4 at Northampton.

    The defendant asks why the cases can't be tried together to save him coming to court twice. The magistrates say cases are being treated separately, so must be tried separately.

  22. Kettering's magistrates could move into council building

    Martin Borley

    BBC Radio Northampton

    As the Department of Justice propose to close both Kettering and Corby magistrates courts, at a meeting tonight, Kettering borough councillors will discuss a proposal to offer the council's own building as a courtroom, to keep justice local.

    Kettering Borough Council

    A report says the council "has rooms and a council chamber already suitable and easily adapted for formal hearings and tribunals".

    The report adds that a priority for the council is to support and enable the development of the town centre as a retail, leisure and public service hub. It says loss of the court services in Kettering would damage the town centre by fragmenting that public service offer."

  23. Northampton Magistrates' Court: Driving while disqualified accused 'member of professional football fraternity'

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    The next case is going to sent to the crown court, meaning it won't be heard here. The defendant is accused of preventing the course of justice and driving while disqualified.

    The man is a "member of professional football fraternity" but the court goes into no more detail as to where he plays.

  24. Northampton Magistrates' Court: Man stole £170 of meat from supermarket

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    The man accused of stealing the meat is Carl Bacon and he has now pleaded guilty. The court has heard he is a "prolific shoplifter".

    Mr Bacon stole meat worth £170 from Marks & Spencer. He has also pleaded guilty to failing to turn up to court on 3 September.

    The court heard that Bacon has been using heroin "for quite some period of time". He had stopped but his brother's suicide sparked a relapse.

    Due to his co-operation with Probation, Bacon escapes jail and is instead fined £365, to be taken from his benefits.

  25. Northampton Magistrates' Court: Man pleads guilty causing distress and begging

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    The court has been hearing the case of Jamie Lee Cook, who has pleaded guilty to causing distress to a woman and begging   

    Cook, 29, of no fixed abode, abused a woman outside a Co-Op store in Northampton on 12 August. She didn't give him change when he was begging

    The duty solicitor Kevin Carter tells the court Cook has drug and alcohol addictions 

    Mr Carter asks if Cook can be considered as a drug rehabilitation requirement (DRR) case. The probation service agrees and the case is adjourned.

  26. Retired police chief 'concerned' about court delays

    BBC Radio Northampton

    Retired Northamptonshire Police chief constable Adrian Lee expressed concerns about delays in the court system when he left the force in July.

    Mr Lee said delays often lead to a spike in offending.

    Adrian Lee
    Quote Message: We know that when people are charged with offences and are waiting to go to trial they can become particularly prolific offenders, so getting people to court quickly is an important part of prevention and I am concerned about the delays. from Adrian Lee Retired Northamptonshire Police chief constable
    Adrian LeeRetired Northamptonshire Police chief constable
  27. Northampton Magistrates' Court: Little information 'the way it's going'

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    The next case is of a man accused of stealing meat. He was supposed to be in court on 3 September but the court can't find detailed papers.

    The legal adviser tells court there is "little information," adding "but that's the way it's going". The bench has now retired. 

  28. Courts: Less people in the system but processing times up

    Pete Cooper

    BBC Local Live

    The increase in the amount of time it is taking for cases to be processed through the court system comes at a time when the numbers of defendants on trial in our courts is going down.

    So less people are going through the court system now then in 2011, but the time it takes to process each case is taking longer.

    Slow justice
  29. Northampton Magistrates' Court: The good and bad of the video link

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    The court has just attempted to hear two cases via video link, from where the defendants are being held in Woodhill Prison.

    The first worked perfectly. However, the second had not spoken to their solicitor and hadn't been brought down to do the video link.

    It will take 10-15 minutes to get him down from his cell. The alleged crime is that he stole coffee. The court will come back to the case later.

  30. Northampton Magistrates' Court: Assault accused denied bail

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    The magistrates have returned in the case of the accused charged with assault by beating and breaking a restraining order.

    Because of their past convictions for breaching restraining orders and the seriousness of the case, the accused is remanded in custody.

    The case will be heard again on Wednesday to re-consider bail application if the accused can find somewhere to stay outside Northamptonshire.

  31. Defendants ‘play the system’ to beat charges

    Pete Cooper

    BBC Local Live

    Corby Magistrates' Court takes 108 days on average to process cases – one of the slowest courts in the country.

    Bench chairman Terry Knights questioned if some suspects were playing the system.

    Terry Knights
    Quote Message: It has to be said some of the defendants know that trials take a long time and unfortunately there are quite a few repeat offenders who know if that plead not guilty on their first appearance it’s going to be a long time before they get to court, and if they’re really lucky the witnesses will say I can’t be bothered with that. from Terry Knights Corby Magistrates’ Bench chairman
    Terry KnightsCorby Magistrates’ Bench chairman
  32. Magistrates' Court: Who makes the decisions?

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    In case you've not been in a magistrates' court, it is rather different from what you may have seen on television.

    Westminster Magistrates' Court

    Decisions are made by a Bench of three magistrates, who are volunteers who hear cases in courts in their community.

    They are not legally trained, but instead are advised by a legal adviser who doesn't make any decisions but is legally qualified.

  33. Northampton Magistrates' Court: More on the assault case

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    I'm at Northampton Magistrates Court today, and in the current case the accused is said to have gone to the victim's home and grabbed her by the windpipe.

    Application for bail is being considered and the magistrates have retired to consider their decision.

    The accused pleaded not guilty, saying he didn't go to the victim's house.

  34. Northampton Magistrates' Court: Proceeding explained

    Pete Cooper

    BBC Local Live

    Craig Lewis is reporting live from Northampton Magistrates court today and as you can see from his update below the first case didn't go smoothly.

    It was meant to happen via 'video link', meaning someone involved in the case was not in Northampton and would speak to the court through the video link from where they're being held in custody.

    Unfortunately, the solicitor was not 'in the booth', not in the right place for proceedings to continue.

    We'll have more on what's happening at Northampton Magistrates' Court through the day.

  35. What's going on at Northampton Magistrates' Court today?

    Craig Lewis

    BBC News

    There are three courts open at Northampton Magistrates' Court, where I am reporting from today; one with cases up for first time, one for ongoing cases and one for remand cases.

    I'm starting off in Court Two, which is dealing with remand cases and video links  

  36. Courts service 'sorry' for delay and say they are working to reduce them

    BBC Radio Northampton

    Paul Harris, delivery director at Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Service, has told the BBC he apologises for the “distress” caused by delays, but added they are are "working very hard to reduce those delays".

    Quote Message: “We are bringing in new arrangements to reduce that distress with people not having to go to court at all but use video conferencing, etcetera. We are doing a lot of work to make things better.” from Paul Harris Delivery Director at Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Service
    Paul HarrisDelivery Director at Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Service
  37. Crown Court cases in Northants take more than seven months to process

    Pete Cooper

    BBC Local Live

    The time taken to process magistrates’ court cases in Northamptonshire has increased from an average of 63 days in 2011 to 88 this year.

    The national average is 63 days, meaning it takes 25 days longer in the county to resolve a case from the moment someone is charged to when their case is completed.

    Northampton Crown Court

    At Northampton Crown Court the average time for a case to be dealt with this year is 226 days - compared to a national average of 199 days.

  38. Courts system in Northamptonshire a 'rollercoster'

    Elinor Cross

    BBC Radio Northampton

    The criminal justice system is on the “cusp” of breaking down amid growing delays, according to Corby magistrates’ bench chairman Terry Knights.

    One woman with experience of the court system in Northamptonshire is Alison Harrison, whose son Stanley was stabbed to death by his best friend.

    Stanley Harrison
    Quote Message: You don’t really know what is going on and as much as the police try to keep you informed they don’t know anything either, because it is all down to different people. It is a rollercoaster because one day you hear something, then you don’t hear anything for weeks and weeks and weeks. from Alison Harrison Mother of murder victim Stanley Harrison
    Alison HarrisonMother of murder victim Stanley Harrison
  39. Witnesses and victims backing out of cases over delays

    Pete Cooper

    BBC Local Live

    We’ve been talking about delays to cases at Corby Magistrates’ Court. What effect does this have on the justice system?

    Terry Knights
    Quote Message: It isn't unusual to get a court appearance which is someone's sixth court appearance for one case. At the end of the day, some of the witnesses and some of the victims say: 'I can't be bothered with this' and they don't turn up and therefore the case falls apart. Justice isn't done. from Terry Knights Corby Magistrates’ Bench chairman
    Terry KnightsCorby Magistrates’ Bench chairman
  40. Northamptonshire courts three weeks slower than average – with two set to close

    Pete Cooper

    BBC Local Live

    So far this year it has taken an average of 88 days for cases to progress through the court system in Northamptonshire.

    Kettering Court

    That is three weeks longer on average than crown and magistrates courts throughout the country.

    It comes at a time when the government is considering closing both Corby and Kettering Magistrates’ Courts as part of a plan to modernise the justice system.

  41. Criminal justice system 'starting to unravel'

    Pete Cooper

    BBC Local Live

    Corby Magistrates' Court is one of the slowest in the country, taking 108 days on average to deal with cases.

    Corby Magistrates Court

    Bench chairman Terry Knights said the delays could be causing some cases to collapse, letting the guilty walk free.

    He said: "I fear we are right on the cusp of things suddenly starting to unravel."

  42. Today's Local Live: A special look at our justice system

    Pete Cooper

    BBC Local Live

    Figures obtained by the BBC show lengthening delays in the time taken for cases to be dealt with by magistrates. Funding cuts have contributed to what some are calling a "postcode lottery" in the administration of justice.

    Northampton Magistrates court

    Through the day I'll bring you what people are telling us about our courts and we’ll be reporting live from Northampton magistrates’ court throughout the day, letting you know how things are progressing.

  43. Morning weather: Sunny with some cloud around

    BBC Weather

    The morning will start cool but generally sunny. It will remain dry throughout the day although we will see some cloud feeding in from the east, so western parts such as around Daventry are likely to hold onto the best of the afternoon sunshine.


    Top temperature today of 18C (64F). You can see Kate Kinsella's full forecast on the BBC Look East Facebook page.

  44. Good morning and welcome to Local Live

    Pete Cooper

    BBC Local Live

    Today is a special edition of Local Live, looking at how our criminal justice system is working.

    But we'll still bring you any breaking news that happens and the latest weather and travel.

    If you want to get in touch then you can email me, tweet us, or head to our Facebook page.