Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

Reforming criminal justice: Government proposals

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On 28 June 2013, the Government published Transforming the Criminal Justice System: A Strategy & Action Plan to Reform the Criminal Justice System. The headline news that attracted media attention was that by 2016, and building on a pilot currently under way in Birmingham, all criminal trials would be run using electronic rather than paper files. It is argued that this will reduce waste and improve efficiency.

The action plan also proposes:

  • ‘Digital embedded in everyday working’ Building on the current system where police digitally transfer case information to CPS, digital working will mean police can use mobile devices, with access to real-time intelligence and local information, to start building case files from the street and giving evidence via video-link becomes  the norm, not the exception.
  • ‘A Criminal Justice System which is faster.’ Legislating to enable the majority of high-volume, low-level ‘regulatory’ cases, such as TV licence evasion and many traffic offences, to be dealt with away from traditional magistrates’ courtrooms, which means freeing up those courts to deal with more serious cases;
  • ‘A Criminal Justice System that is transparent and responsive’.  This will support the extension of the ‘Track My Crime’ system, an  initiative, launched by Avon and Somerset Constabulary, which gives victims the opportunity to check the progress of their case online, including the name of the responsible police officer. It allows the police to send updates to victims to update them on their case, creating a more open and transparent criminal justice system.
  • ‘Care and consideration for victims and witnesses’ Providing extra support for victims and witnesses by offering them greater protection throughout the criminal justice process, for example by making it easier for witnesses to give evidence by video, and looking at the case for creating an independent complaints ombudsman for victims of crime. (The Government has already announced that it will pilot the use of pre-recorded evidence for vulnerable victims and witnesses so that they are no longer cross-examined in open court.)

This programme of change is to be driven forward by the Criminal Justice Board, which was established in February 2013.

The clear intention of Government is that the investment in IT foreshadowed in these proposals will eventually lead to reductions in public expenditure.

The Press Release on the proposals is at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/damian-green-digital-courtrooms-to-be-rolled-out-nationally

Full detail of the proposals is at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/transforming-the-criminal-justice-system

Rather limited information about the Criminal Justice Board is at http://www.justice.gov.uk/about/moj/advisory-groups/criminal-justice-board

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Written by lwtmp

July 3, 2013 at 11:01 am

Posted in Chapter 5

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