Partners in Crime is a Drama programme.

Image for the Drama programme "Partners in Crime"
Picture: BBC PICTURES/Endor Productions

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Partners in Crime

Partners In Crime follows the human stories that lie at the very heart of the criminal justice system from arrest to sentence. This three-part series presents an insider's view of the justice machine, through the eyes of those who administer the law and those who are accused of breaking it. For the first time on British television, cameras have been given unprecedented access to film elements of the judicial process in an English magistrates' court. Until now no filming has ever been allowed.

The programmes feature solicitors from a busy criminal practice in Nottingham as they deftly navigate their way through the legal process to secure the best outcome for their clients. Entire cases are reconstructed, not with actors, but with the real magistrates, prosecutors, defence solicitors and the defendants themselves.

Magistrates' courts deal with 97% of all Britain's crime and Nottingham has the biggest court in the country. Last year its 446 magistrates dealt with almost 70,000 offences. The cases dealt with by the magistrates' courts provide a snapshot of society's underlying problems, yet few people have entered the courts or know how they work.

Digby Johnson is a defence lawyer whose clients include drug addicts, shoplifters, vagrants and prostitutes and he regularly advocates on behalf of 50 clients a week. This is all the more remarkable because Digby Johnson - local hero to many of society's dropouts - is blind. District Judge Peter Nuttall has served in Nottingham for 10 years and has noticed a massive increase in drug-related crime during that time.

The series starts at Nottingham's Bridewell police station where we meet Antony Corson, a 32-year old heroin addict and repeat offender who commits burglary to feed his habit, and Kevin Jones, an 18-year-old who has pleaded guilty to common assault and is awaiting sentence. Antony is desperate to break the vicious cycle of drugs and crime.

"Antony, you know, has had more roads to Damascus than St Paul; it's just every time he comes out, potentially there is a new start, and every time he comes out he gets messed up...all I can do is just keep giving him the opportunity to make those changes and keep trying to make sure that the resources are there for him to do it," says Digby.

The series looks at some new measures, such as the Drug Treatment and Testing Orders which explore alternative ways of dealing with repeat offenders. The Human Rights Act now requires magistrates and any other sentencing court to look carefully at alternatives to custody. Antony is given a final chance, a four-week bail period in which to prove himself. "This is the first day of the rest of my life," he says, "I've got an incentive now, I want a life pure and simple life". But Antony is caught asleep in the middle of a burglary only five days after his release.

Genre: Drama

Running Time: 65 minutes (approx)

Main Cast

Jonny Phillips
Kristin Kahle
Jon Kenneth Mergist
J. Michael Flynn
Andrew Dolan
Dalin Christiansen
Sarah Ashley
Paulina Porizkova
Image for Rutger HauerRutger Hauer
Amy van Nostrand
Dennis Saylor
Geoff Hansen
Christina Cole
Edward Speleers
Image for Alice KrigeAlice Krige
Image for David WalliamsDavid Walliams
Matthew Steer
Image for Clarke PetersClarke Peters
Image for James FleetJames Fleet
Image for Jessica RaineJessica Raine