Parish Hall inquiries
The Parish Hall Inquiry is an informal way of dealing with minor criminal behaviour, particularly by young people, which has been in use in Jersey for over 800 years.
The Inquiry is not actually a court hearing. It is an opportunity for the Centenier (the head of the Honorary Police for the parish) to review the evidence and decide whether it is in the public interest for the case to be tried in the Magistrate's Court. In doing so the Centenier will discuss the evidence with the accused person and, if the offence is minor, possibly agree a non-statutory sanction which will avoid the need for the case to go to court. Attendance at the inquiry is voluntary, the Centenier does not make a finding of guilt (a sanction is only imposed if the accused agrees, otherwise the case is sent on to the Magistrate's Court) and at any time the accused may elect to have the case referred to the Magistrate.
Sanctions which can be imposed include:
- No further action/'words of advice'
- Written caution
- Fine of up to £100 for some offences, eg minor motoring offences
- Deferral of a sanction, dependant on good behaviour
- Voluntary supervision by the probation service
These sanctions are not convictions but a record is kept and they may be referred to in the event of the accused coming into contact with the criminal justice system on a subsequent occasion.