NORTH OXFORDSHIRE PETTY SESSIONS RECORDS

Scope and Content

Records of the Petty Sessions Courts held at Banbury. The area has been known as the North Wootton Petty Sessions Division, the Banbury and Bloxham Petty Session Division and the North Oxfordshire Petty Session Division.

Quarter Sessions were held four times a year, Petty Sessions much more frequently. The latter had civil jurisdiction, such as the licensing of premises for the sale of alcohol. Most, of their time spent on criminal cases involved trials of the vast amount of minor non-indictable crimes. However, under the Magistrates Courts Act of 1952 the magistrates could also try some indictable offences, especially those involving persons under the age of eighteen. Under Childrens and Young Persons Acts 1933-63 a bench of magistrates trying a child or young person was termed a Juvenile Court.

Petty Sessions was used as a Court of Summary Jurisdiction, held before two or more magistrates in a sessional court-house. However, a defendant could choose to go before a jury at Quarter Sessions or Assizes, if he felt he had a better chance of acquittal.

Quarter Sessions acted as a Court of Appeal from Petty Sessions, as well as a court of original jurisdiction in its own right for many indictable crimes. More serious cases, such as murder, were removed to Assize hearings. These courts were abolished on 1 January 1972: Petty Sessional Courts are now known as Magistrates Courts. Separate Borough Courts remained in existence until the Local Government Act of 1972.

The records were deposited as part of Acc 6045 in November 2011 nd Acc 6568 in April 2017. Catalogued by Alison Smith in August 2021.

Access Information

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