Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

Efficiency in the criminal justice system: the Victim’s perspective.

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Louise Casey, the Government’s Commissioner for Victims, has just delivered a controversial lecture on changes she thinks are needed in the criminal justice system. She makes two proposals:

  • removing the right to trial by jury for what she calls petty crimes; and
  • stopping ‘cracked trials’ which waste a lot of public money.

As I discuss in chapter 5 of the book, the first proposal is not new; but it always runs up against the ‘thin end of the wedge’ argument – that if you start to take away the right to jury trial, this will be the start of a process that will abolish jury trials. What is interesting about Casey’s intervention is that she wants money save to be diverted to better victim support.

The second proposal – trying to stop cracked trials – seems to me to be quite hard to achieve in practice. Her proposal that lawyers should receive no more than a fixed fee, whenever a guilty plea is entered, seems to me likely to encourage more people to continue to plead not guilty and therefore ultimately add to the cost of criminal justice.

However the Director of Public Prosecutions has also recently fingered cracked trials as an issue that needs addressing because of the waste of resources cracked trials involve.

It may be that between them, the Commissioner and the DPP will discover a workable way to cut down cracked trials and make sensible savings.

For further info, including a link to a youtube version of the Commissioner’s speech, see:
http://www.justice.gov.uk/about/victims-commissioner-news.htm

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Written by lwtmp

November 3, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Posted in Chapter 5

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