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March 15, 2017

The Prisons and Courts Bill – a Pandora’s Box? (2)

Transform Justice has published a briefing on the court reform aspects of the Prisons and Courts Bill. We have a number of concerns, notably

– The criminal court proposals seem to have been introduced in some cases without research, evidence or informal or formal consultation with experts and stakeholders

– The government is committed to saving money through the court reform programme, but most changes have not been costed, and the impact on remand and sentences has not been modelled

– The move to online and virtual justice threatens to significantly increase the number of unrepresented defendants, to further discriminate against vulnerable defendants, to inhibit the relationship between defence lawyers and their clients, and to make justice less open

– Our criminal justice system is very complex and its fairness rests on parties understanding and participating in the process. This is difficult to achieve even when everyone is in a courtroom. Fundamental principles of justice and human rights are risked if we take justice wholly or partially out of the courtroom

The briefing is here

There will be other views on the bill and I would be interested in any feedback…including whether I have got anything wrong. Penelope@transformjustice.org.uk