On 19th February 2013 Damian Green gave a speech – the Criminal Justice Reform Lecture. This was to set out his (and the Government’s) vision for the Criminal Justice System. This ties in to the ‘Swift and Sure White Paper‘ that has been published.
It went down, to put it mildly, like a sack of, well, the proverbial, with the lawyers on twitter. The speech is quite short and worth reading, whether you’re professionally involved in the Criminal Justice System or not, but we will give a short summary here. It is a topic that we will probably come back to later this week (but if anyone wants to put forward their views, they are always welcome to get in touch).
Firstly, Mr Green outlines the problems. They will be familiar to anyone with a passing acquaintance with the criminal system. Too many delays (particularly with trials being adjourned) and not enough use of technology. He then outlines three ‘principles’ that the system does not have enough of:
The lecture is light on specifics as to what is actually planned. It is hard to write about this without being too cynical, but Mr Green does not make it particular easy. He does mention that, in his attempts to reform “there will be forces of inaction and vested interest that will seek to slow our pace“. Who these vested interests are are not stated, but I’m guessing he may be talking about the lawyers.
We do know that a Criminal Justice Board has been established that will oversee this. It consists of “the operational leaders from across the system“, although it’s not entirely clear who they are. Among others on the board will be “a senior judge, a representative for the newly established Policing and Crime Commissioners, and the CEO from the new College of Policing“.
They will report ‘in the Spring’ with an action plan. There is the mention of money, and it is clear that cutting costs is important as well as what ever else is planned. This post may seem rather light on detail, but then so is Mr Green’s speech. We will come back to it when the actual plan is clearer.