Sunday, September 17, 2006

Re-re-balancing The Criminal Justice System

The BBC has reported that the Home Secretary is going to issue another consultation paper where he seeks to re-balance the Criminal Justice System again:
Judges could be stopped from freeing criminals on legal technicalities under government plans. Home Secretary John Reid, who says he wants to "rebalance criminal justice in favour of victims", will launch a consultation on how to achieve his aim.

The consultation paper states that it "should not be possible to quash" a conviction that is considered "safe".

The move follows a police crackdown on reckless or drunk drivers escaping conviction through legal "loopholes".

Writing in the foreword to the paper, Mr Reid said new laws would be required.

"Whilst the government is open to suggestions about how we achieve the aims, we are not consulting on the aims themselves or on whether the law should be changed," he said.

"It is our firm view that the present system risks outcomes which are unacceptable to the law-abiding majority."

Common examples of so-called loopholes include the police failing to properly read suspects their rights, or searching homes with out-of-date warrants.

The Home Office consultation paper states: "The government acknowledges that the Court of Appeal are not in the same position as the jury and may not always be able to form a view on whether the appellant committed the offence.

"However, where they have formed such a view the government believes they should not be empowered to allow the appeal."
To read the BBC article follow this link.

Is it me or does Dr. John Reid simply not understand the rule of law? We have over centuries developed a legal system that is designed to allow both the Prosecution and Defence to give evidence in Court to decide which side is correct - it seems to me that Dr. John Reid does not like the idea of a not guilty verdict! The conviction rate in this country is something like 97% in the Magistrates Court. What more does he want?

If he looking to prevent people having convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal on technicalities then he wasting his time - the Court of Appeal has said in many judgments over the past few years that technicalities will not prevent an otherwise safe conviction from being quashed.

Okay, rant over...

10 comments:

Jo said...

Great blog...
I've just started my training contract, planning on working in criminal defence, wondering if there'll be anything left by time I qualify.

Gavin said...

Thanks for your comments Jo.

If you are doing criminal defence work in your training contract then have a look at this site Criminal Solicitor Dot Net.

minifig said...

I totally agree. Every week the Home Secretary doesn't feel like he's done his job unless he's rebalanced sentencing in favour of the victim.

I always thought that the point of a balance in this situation would be for us to not be biased towards either side. Or am I missing something?

Maybe we should just get the Sun to do the sentencing rather than having the government act as a middleman.

Gavin said...

I agree.

Jo said...

Thanks...my first and possibly second or last seats are going to be in crime, which is where I want to practice. It's fascinating work, but the way that justice system and defence work keeps getting screwed frustrates me.

clarrie said...

look you just don't get it do you? The point is there is Innocent Law Abiding People like us and then there's People Accused of Crimes Who Must Be Guilty Otherwise Why Would The Police Arrest Them? And if the latter group Get Off Scott Free then obviously Something Must Be Done and that Something is obviously not the police and/or the CPS doing their job right in the first place.

Barry O'Connell said...

If Juries are prone to getting it wrong so often then perhaps the government should get rid of them... oh they're trying that are they? Mmmm...

Well maybe they just need to get rid of trials altogether, perhaps replacing them with some form of summary justice and fines... oh they are trying that too? Mmmm...

Anonymous said...

The man's a bloody idiot, just like his predecessor. He's also fiddling with the wrong thing. The general public, be he victim or outraged taxi driver, doesn't have much of a problem with the structure of the legal system, the presumption of innocence and all the other good stuff.

The principal concern of the public is that when some low-life scumbag gets convicted, his punishment often seems to be a small fine payable at a couple of quid a week and a slap on the wrist. That's the bit that doesn't much look like justice.

Having a system that actually reduces reoffending, whether by carrot or by stick, would cost money, though. Abolishing liberties saves money, as long as it's someone else'sliberty that you're abolishing.

Bystander said...

I don't think he or his colleagues are idiots. It's more malign than that. They are deeply illiberal, and they know exactly what they are doing p what the Sun tells them to do.

James said...

Words fail me.