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May 12, 2022
Child defendants in the pandemic – did courts make the right compromises to keep the wheels of justice turning?

Should a child learn that they have been convicted of murder while they are on… Read more

April 11, 2022
Keeping the wheels of justice turning – magistrates’ views on justice in the pandemic

What can we learn from pandemic justice? Unfortunately, the Covid inquiry is not going to… Read more

March 25, 2022
Is imprisonment before trial the result of poor risk assessment?

How long does it take to hear the arguments for and against depriving someone of… Read more

March 7, 2022
Independent domestic violence advocates in magistrates’ courts – a backfire effect?

Do programmes and interventions used in the criminal justice system work? Sometimes the best ideas… Read more

February 23, 2022
Do people who get in trouble with the law deserve double punishment?

Many people get in trouble with the law when young, either as teenagers or in… Read more

January 27, 2022
Making child remand a last resort

The Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill proposes legislation which will increase the prison population… Read more

January 13, 2022
Want to build trust in the police? Detain less

Is detaining someone in police custody worth it? The police in England and Wales detained… Read more

December 22, 2021
Does the defendant in the magistrates’ court get a fair hearing?

The Bellamy review of criminal legal aid doesn’t pull its punches. It paints a picture… Read more

December 10, 2021
Is justice for victims always criminal justice?

To what extent can an adversarial system of justice meet the needs and wants of… Read more

November 24, 2021
Only by radically shrinking the magistrates’ court can the Crown Court backlog be reduced

The Treasury in its spending review assigned £477 million  to reduce the Crown Court backlog… Read more

November 5, 2021
Children imprisoned on remand – the stark reality of racial bias

Transform Justice has been tracking the ethnicity of the children remanded in London for the… Read more

October 22, 2021
Altruistic up-tariffing? The pitfalls of more rehabilitative police cautions

“It’s all good sending him to court for every offence he may have committed, but… Read more

October 2, 2021
Covid justice – how not to do it?

This week we discovered that Sarah Everard’s killer falsely arrested her by accusing her of… Read more

September 8, 2021
Swipe right to plead guilty

Does it matter where and how someone pleads guilty or not guilty to a crime?… Read more

August 27, 2021
Computer says yes – you will pay a fine and get a criminal record

Media about the criminal justice system is dominated by trials with judges and barristers in… Read more

July 29, 2021
Does diversion from court have an image problem?

  Soft justice? Diversion and out of court disposals (the ways in which the police… Read more

July 12, 2021
Does L&D stop the revolving door of police custody?

‘One of the challenges for people coming into the criminal justice system is [not] knowing… Read more

June 25, 2021
The forgotten people? Prisoners on remand in the pandemic

Soon after the pandemic started, the Lord Chief Justice gave a judgment which suggested that… Read more

June 14, 2021
Barely legal? The experience of remote tribunal hearings

Last week two experiences brought home how wary we should be of assuming that remote… Read more

May 26, 2021
When should a family dispute end up in court?

The classic and horrifying image of domestic abuse is of a man hitting his female… Read more

May 13, 2021
A different understanding? How the CJS discriminates against those with autism

This is the second of two guest posts by Alex Reid. The first provides helpful… Read more

May 7, 2021
Prosecuting mental health – accountability or criminalisation?

The government is set to increase the maximum sentence for people who assault emergency workers… Read more

April 30, 2021
Priti Patel – a new champion of criminal records reform?

For four long years the Home Office fought tooth and nail through the courts to… Read more

April 20, 2021
To blindly go? Learning (or not) from pandemic policing

How did policing adapt during the pandemic? And now lockdown is lifting, which changes should… Read more

April 9, 2021
Is prosecution counter-productive? New US research says it can be

There is a strong belief that criminal sanctions reduce crime. But a new study from… Read more

March 30, 2021
Should a parent shop their child to the police for sexual assault?

On Monday Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the police chiefs’ lead for child protection, encouraged parents… Read more

March 23, 2021
Let’s support prisoners to turn their lives around, not force them onto courses which don’t work

When Transform Justice was researching courses for those who committed domestic abuse, we asked what… Read more

March 16, 2021
Women are complicated and so is rape.

Sexual offences are very complicated. Most happen behind closed doors involving two adults and no… Read more

March 6, 2021
Tried and tested? New proposals for resolving crime without going to court

The practice of resolving crimes without going to court is in flux. HMICFRS has suggested… Read more

February 26, 2021
Not remotely fair? Access to a lawyer in the police station during the Covid-19 pandemic

Transform Justice, Fair Trials and the NAAN (the National Appropriate Adult Network) have published a… Read more

February 18, 2021
What is the future for legally aided criminal defence?

How do we manage a criminal defence service in an age of austerity and Covid?… Read more

February 9, 2021
Is harassment a crime if the harasser has no idea they are harassing?

Guest post by Alex Reid Until 2017 when my 35-year-old autistic son stood trial for… Read more

February 1, 2021
Why we need to go slow on some court hearings and abandon others

What compromises do we need to make and who should pay the price? The courts… Read more

January 24, 2021
How is the criminal justice system stacked against black boys?

When I discuss ethnic disproportionality in child prisons – pointing out that over half the… Read more

January 12, 2021
Why avoiding prosecution leads to less crime

Deferred prosecution is a slight misnomer since the idea of the programme is never to… Read more

January 4, 2021
Does it matter if those accused of crime plead guilty or not guilty?

Just before Christmas news leaked out that the government was getting cold feet about decriminalising… Read more

December 17, 2020
Known unknowns? The crazy world of pre-charge bail policy

It’s too easy to make policy based on assumptions. We all have beliefs we don’t… Read more

December 14, 2020
The Sentencing Council and criminal justice: leading role or bit part player?

Transform Justice has published a new report on the Sentencing Council and criminal justice: leading… Read more

December 1, 2020
Is less more or the same?

It is tempting to think that the only way to stop individuals committing crime is… Read more

November 14, 2020
How to deal with the court backlog – divert rather than arrest

It is hard to think there might be any silver lining to the pandemic. Particularly… Read more

November 6, 2020
Remote justice – a view of the pros and cons from an anonymous judge

This week’s guest blog is from an anonymous district judge who sits in civil and… Read more

October 28, 2020
Reframing crime and justice

“We must never forget that to commit crime is to make a choice. There is,… Read more

October 14, 2020
In praise of criminal courts

Sometimes I wish I was not so long in the tooth. Eight years ago I… Read more

October 2, 2020
How much do we value effective participation in justice?

If we really value effective participation in justice should we pause remote hearings involving real… Read more

September 22, 2020
Do people care about judicial and magistrates’ diversity any more?

Once the diversity of the judiciary, or rather the lack of it, made national news…. Read more

September 18, 2020
The sentencing white paper: tough on crime but tough enough on the causes?

The sentencing white paper – actually called “A Smarter Approach to Sentencing” is a curious… Read more

September 6, 2020
Online immigration appeals – better, quicker?

The digital court reform programme was trundling along relatively slowly before the pandemic. Discrete jurisdictions… Read more

August 18, 2020
Teenage murder – the human cost of county-lines

“I feel like all this could have been avoided,” said Jada, the mother of murdered… Read more

July 23, 2020
Are video links causing the criminal justice system to slow down?

Recently Boris Johnson described zoom calls as a miracle, but that sometimes there is “no… Read more

July 19, 2020
Unnecessary arrest?

A lot of policy and guidance is never followed, nor its ignoring challenged. During the… Read more

July 8, 2020
Links for seminar

The EHRC report is here (the interim report is the one particular focussed on virtual)… Read more

July 8, 2020
Should every crime be prosecuted?

This week the government said that they would like the police (or rather the CPS)… Read more

July 4, 2020
DBS reform – no longer in the too difficult box?

This week the Prime Minister, who often bats off issues, supported a surprising reform. At… Read more

June 25, 2020
Should we defund the police response to domestic abuse?

Its easy to dismiss the #defund the police movement. But the more I think about… Read more

June 19, 2020
Defund police custody?

Should we defund the police? The idea took one great leap into the US political… Read more

June 11, 2020
Does virtual justice increase discrimination?

I have been observing courts in the pandemic. One day at Highbury Magistrates’ Court a… Read more

June 6, 2020
24 hours in police custody – is police detention overused?

In the pandemic, legal representatives have been concerned about going into police custody due to… Read more

June 2, 2020
24 hours in police custody – is police custody overused?

Today Transform Justice has published a new report on the overuse of police custody

May 20, 2020
What do victims of crime really really want?

The government is very concerned by the drop in criminal prosecutions and appear to blame… Read more

May 14, 2020
The wheels of justice are turning but at what cost?

This week the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland spoke about parliamentary business and the constraints of… Read more

May 5, 2020
Defendants on video can feel like caged animals

In pre-Covid times the government was trying to get digital court reform going. The PCC… Read more

April 30, 2020
What’s done can be undone – the worrying rise in children on remand

If the last five years have taught us anything it’s that nothing is permanent. Progress… Read more

April 24, 2020
Can we access video-enabled justice?

The history of video court hearings in this country goes back quite a long way… Read more

April 14, 2020
Trial by skype : uncharted waters

Before Boris Johnson went into hospital, he, his staff and his cabinet were meeting via… Read more

April 9, 2020
Prosecuting children – why it requires expertise and experience

In the time of Corona, some stories get buried. In March, the inspectorate of prosecution… Read more

April 3, 2020
Is closed justice a price worth paying to keep courts running?

The proponents of digital justice have had a field day since the courts went on… Read more

March 26, 2020
Reducing detention in police custody – time for radical solutions

Transform Justice has been working for the last year on the over-use of police custody… Read more

March 17, 2020
Should representatives of the people be involved in civic society?

Should magistrates and judges be hermetically sealed from formal involvement in civic society? People have… Read more

March 12, 2020
Domestic abuse programmes – are we running before we can walk?

This week in the budget, the government re-iterated its commitment to supporting victims of crime…. Read more

March 4, 2020
Mission impossible – can the police alone reduce crime?

Is the government asking the police to do the impossible? The Home Secretary has funded… Read more

February 21, 2020
Why snail mail leads to no bail

More and more defendants are charged or asked to attend court by post. Most crimes… Read more

February 13, 2020
Police station legal advice – looking a gift horse in the mouth

Anyone arrested by the police is entitled to free legal advice at and before interview…. Read more

February 6, 2020
How to target the most serious domestic abusers

There are very few who criticise the draft domestic abuse bill. But many campaigners will… Read more

January 31, 2020

Join us on FairChecks

January 28, 2020
Do we need more or less stop-and-search?

(This is a guest blog from Professor Mike Hough based on academic work completed with… Read more

January 14, 2020
A criminal record – the new life sentence

Peter was 18 in 1982. That year he struck someone when trying to protect a… Read more

January 9, 2020
The game of chasing police targets

“Oooohhh, Sanctioned Detections are back! How very 2010. Now a key performance indicator, again. Patently… Read more

January 1, 2020
Is faith in the criminal justice system waning?

The number of prosecutions by the police has fallen to an all time low. This… Read more

December 16, 2019
How to mend our criminal justice system – a twelve point plan

We are here with a new Conservative government which promised to be tough on crime… Read more

December 10, 2019
The risk of assessing risk

Do you see children through the lens of risk, need or potential? Maybe all three?… Read more

December 7, 2019
Transforming Rehabilitation reform – who will be left holding the baby?

Last week the government published a tender for the new probation services contract . The publication was controversial… Read more

November 22, 2019
Why are so many children kept in police cells overnight?

“A night in a cell is an intimidating experience. Police custody facilities are designed to… Read more

November 15, 2019
Should we be imprisoning people for forgetting to turn up to court?

If you go into any magistrates court you will notice that cases often don’t go… Read more

November 10, 2019
Living in limbo – police bail yesterday and RUI today

In its last days, this government announced a review of its policy on pre-charge bail…. Read more

November 1, 2019
Digital court reform: the risks of user testing

This week Bob Neill MP, Chair of the Justice Committee launched their report on the… Read more

October 26, 2019
Out of court and out of mind

Last year 215,000 people who committed crime in England and Wales were dealt with out… Read more

October 18, 2019
There is no justice without independent and unafraid judges

This week a former judge, Claire Gilham won her case to have her rights as… Read more

October 13, 2019
Should all domestic abuse suspects be arrested?

When police arrived at the flat of Carrie Symonds in June, having been phoned by… Read more

October 5, 2019
Should mothers ever be imprisoned?

This week we learned that a new born baby died in Bronzefield Prison on 27th… Read more

September 26, 2019
How can we assess the competence of solicitor advocates?

The truth is often difficult to pin down and the truth about advocacy is indeed… Read more

September 20, 2019
Does the public understand and agree with criminal sentences?

Boris Johnson is not a fan of our criminal justice system. In his efforts to… Read more

September 13, 2019
The demise of local justice?

What price local justice? Unfortunately no one has been able to identify and quantify the… Read more

September 9, 2019
Why on earth should the innocent plead guilty?

It can be hard for someone who has never been charged to understand how someone… Read more

August 19, 2019
The right to know you are accused of a crime

Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the right to be informed promptly, in a… Read more

August 7, 2019
The rape victim’s right to choose

“Beyond reasonable doubt” is a high hurdle for criminal convictions. It needs to be high… Read more

July 27, 2019
The power of choice – is it enough to maintain the quality of criminal defence?

“The whole thing feels arbitrary. It doesn’t feel like you have a choice. You might… Read more

July 22, 2019
Criminal defence in an age of austerity: Zealous advocate or cog in a machine?

This is a guest blog by Jonathan Black which appears as the afterword to our… Read more

July 20, 2019
Are personal stories too personal? How to influence more progressive criminal justice media coverage

“Journalists are only interested in case studies”, “people who have lived experience are the most… Read more

July 14, 2019
Why leadership magistrates should be representatives of the people

Does judicial diversity still matter? The process of selecting candidates to be “leadership magistrates” suggests… Read more

July 6, 2019
24 hours in police custody – at what cost?

Only two in five of those who are remanded (detained post charge) by police go… Read more

June 27, 2019
Judging the judges in the land of the free

In the UK, we have traditionally prided ourselves on a fair justice system, and compared… Read more

June 18, 2019
The magistracy is withering on the vine. Can and should it be revived?

I frequently feel like Cassandra who was cursed to utter prophecies that were true but… Read more

June 15, 2019
Vulnerable to suggestion -why we need more AAs & lawyers in police interviews

“And my last post tonight about police station advice – I have no example in… Read more

June 4, 2019
Rehabilitation programmes – do we know whether they work?

Anything which helps those who commit crimes change their behaviour has to be a good… Read more

May 30, 2019
The First Step Act and Trump – has the leopard changed its spots?

It may have passed you by, but on December 21st last year a new criminal justice… Read more

May 23, 2019
Police want to fight crime, not operate courts

I do not find the role of Cassandra particularly pleasant but every time there’s new criticism… Read more

May 18, 2019
Court reform – how fit for the future?

Normal government convention seems to have gone out of the window. In the old days… Read more

May 8, 2019
The nightmare of anti-social behaviour – is the community trigger the answer?

Anti-social behaviour never seems to hit the headlines any more. Even the recent news that… Read more

April 28, 2019
The tide is turning – at last there’s progress on criminal justice in the USA

In the UK our prison population doubled in twenty years and became the highest in… Read more

April 11, 2019
The secret room – who is listening to what in digital courts?

When lawyers have previously expressed their concerns about the confidentiality of video links, I’ve not… Read more

April 6, 2019
Jail or bail? We can learn from the USA

People who follow this blog know that I am slightly obsessed by the difference between… Read more

March 29, 2019
Playing with fire – the risks of evidence free probation practice

The Chief Inspector of Probation this week expressed clearly what everyone involved thinks – that… Read more

March 24, 2019
Do people prefer doing justice online?

Do people want to do justice online? The government says they do and, in some… Read more

March 12, 2019
Black lives matter

Say the words multi-agency, holistic and early intervention and most people’s eyes glaze over. Unfortunately… Read more

March 2, 2019
I believe in evidence

“Don’t you believe in anything?” “Yes”, Isaac Asimov said. “I believe in evidence. I believe… Read more

February 23, 2019
What should magistrates be allowed to say?

Magistrates can be difficult to control. They are volunteers in the justice system, who have… Read more

February 22, 2019
What should magistrates be allowed to say?

Magistrates can be difficult to control. They are volunteers in the justice system, who have… Read more

February 17, 2019
The future of the magistracy – who should take control?

This week three senior salaried judges and the Minister Lucy Fraser were quizzed by the… Read more

February 12, 2019
Would you like pro-bono help with your communications?

  Reframing consultancy support Transform Justice is offering pro bono communications coaching and support to… Read more

February 10, 2019
Court hearings on demand – a triumph for openness or an invasion of privacy?

The other day the senior judiciary published the actions they’d agreed as a result of… Read more

February 3, 2019
Knife crime prevention orders – will they deliver?

“We know that police enforcement alone is not the long-term solution to knife crime. Stop… Read more

January 28, 2019
Seeking a communications expert for freelance contract

Transform Justice is advertising a freelance contract for someone to help criminal justice charities communicate… Read more

January 26, 2019
Prosecuting parents for truancy – who pays the price?

Why punish parents whose children don’t go to school? A new report by Rona Epstein,… Read more

January 18, 2019
Bedtime reading list on digital court reform and court closures

  Many of you are preparing to respond to the Justice Committee’s inquiry on courts… Read more

January 11, 2019
Opening Pandora’s Box? Consulting judges on court reform

The public are used to consultations which seem to be tick box exercises. Every consultation… Read more

January 3, 2019
Should we rely on the criminal justice system to reduce domestic abuse?

Everyone involved in domestic abuse wants to stop it. But there is huge disagreement about… Read more

December 23, 2018
Unnecessary short sharp shock or genuine last resort? The overuse of remand for children

Is the short, sharp shock of child remand really necessary? A new report from Transform… Read more

December 20, 2018
£35 million plus on digital court reform consultants in eight months

“It really is not reasonable to expect court staff, judges or court users to attend… Read more

December 16, 2018
How new technology can both consume and save time: lessons for digital court reform?

“A shambolic day for youth justice at Bromley YC. Still sitting, still waiting for 3… Read more

December 4, 2018
David and Goliath or cat and mouse? Prising information on digital court reform out of the Ministry of Justice

I must be the bane of the Ministry of Justice with my endless FOIs (freedom… Read more

December 2, 2018
“Like being in a dog pound” – the reality of police custody

I thought I’d lost the capacity to be shocked by the current criminal justice system… Read more

November 23, 2018
Mice, broken lifts and buckets – the state of courts in England and Wales

Once upon a time there were lots of courts up and down the country and… Read more

November 17, 2018
Shot aged 14 in a London street – was Chris’s death an accident?

Every child death is a tragedy, but a fourteen year old boy shot while standing… Read more

November 10, 2018
How many children who commit crimes are groomed?

“Oliver wondered what picking the old gentleman’s pocket in play, had to do with his… Read more

November 1, 2018
Why is the justice system so starved of resources?

The timing of Justice Week was unfortunate given it started with the Chancellor announcing a… Read more

October 27, 2018
“I could see they believed me” – the importance of feeling listened to in court

I feel overwhelmed with a cornucopia of information. I regularly submit FOIs to the courts… Read more

October 17, 2018
Bad apples or sign of systemic problems? The rudeness of judges

When I read the case of Myers (brought to my attention by the anonymous barrister… Read more

October 12, 2018
I fear there is no magic money tree for justice, so the only solution is to shrink the system

  “Mags Ct today in chaos. 2 duty solicitors unable to cope because almost none… Read more

October 6, 2018
Computer says no bail – does AI reduce or increase human bias?

Does artificial intelligence (AI) – the ability of a machine or a computer program to… Read more

September 28, 2018
How much worse can it get? CRCs and domestic abuse

I hope the picture painted by inspectors this week of how probation deals with domestic… Read more

September 21, 2018
The police and domestic abuse – damned if they do, damned if they don’t

“There are a lot of people who get very nervous around domestics because historically it’s… Read more

September 11, 2018
Court is a delicate ecosystem in which human contact is essential

It is research, but not as we know it. After months of bugging HMCTS to… Read more

September 8, 2018
Digital court reform – dissent in the ranks?

Up until recently, judges’ views of the digital court reform programme have been little known… Read more

August 30, 2018
Domestic abuse programmes – where is the evidence they work?

Why is the government continuing to spend thousands of pounds on programmes aimed at reducing… Read more

August 17, 2018
Healing or opening emotional wounds -should restorative justice be used for domestic abuse?

There are many strongly held views about what should and shouldn’t be done in cases… Read more

August 4, 2018
The judgment of Solomon – should judges be all-knowing?

My daughter has started training to be a social worker and her first essay was… Read more

July 29, 2018
The imprisonment of mothers harms the interests of their children

Today’s is a guest blog from Rona Epstein, research fellow at Coventry Law School. For… Read more

July 17, 2018
The death of local justice? How court closures marginalise rural communities

“I have had clients who have told me that they cannot afford to travel from… Read more

July 13, 2018
Crisis what crisis? Magistrate numbers cut by half

This week I met someone in their 30s who had applied to become a magistrate…. Read more

July 6, 2018
“The battle is won and lost before the court doors are unlocked”

I start this blog with some trepidation since the subject – a new report on… Read more

July 1, 2018
Justice or crime control – what should the criminal process deliver?

This guest blog is from Professor Mike Hough, one of our greatest criminologists, who has… Read more

June 23, 2018
#thelawisnotbroken – court users seem happy enough with today’s courts

A rather confounding survey was published by the Courts Service (HMCTS) this week. It said… Read more

June 13, 2018
Justice must not just be done, but be seen to be done

Pamela Attfield was interested in putting in a small claim and so wanted to observe… Read more

June 9, 2018
If we want to reduce domestic abuse, should we be using the criminal justice system?

Everyone involved in domestic abuse wants to stop it. But there is huge disagreement about… Read more

May 31, 2018
The domestic violence protection order – evidence based policy or policy based evidence?

I am beginning to wonder why the government does any research on justice issues. They… Read more

May 20, 2018
The illusion of open justice

The judiciary seem exercised by the future of open justice. They are consulting judges and… Read more

May 8, 2018
More in hope than expectation? The government’s digital court reform programme

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the courts need to become more efficient. Saving… Read more

April 30, 2018
Not the “awkward squad”: unrepresented defendants in the Crown Court

In 2015 when I was trying (with difficulty) to do research on unrepresented defendants in… Read more

April 29, 2018
Everyone admits short prison sentences are ineffective, so why do the courts still use them?

Hallelujah! A government minister is openly saying that short prison sentences are a waste of… Read more

April 20, 2018
“Children don’t appreciate they are in court, not on a computer game”

How can it be that vulnerable child defendants have ended up participating in important court… Read more

April 15, 2018
Knife crime: can we save the lost boys?

My children are inner-city twenty-somethings. Two of the most recent London stabbings happened within half… Read more

April 5, 2018
We need to talk about Keres & Co

“Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken” is a great book. It sets out… Read more

March 30, 2018
Police and court bail policy is a mess

On the face of it, the story broken by the BBC today is alarming –… Read more

March 19, 2018
Remand by skype – the dystopian future for an already broken system

Imagine being imprisoned on remand in relation to a crime you did not commit on the basis… Read more

March 16, 2018
Guilty until proved innocent – the assumption behind the latest government consultation

One of the reasons for the disclosure problems that have recently come to light is… Read more

March 10, 2018
Court closures – are they selling the family silver?

If making a tidy sum from the sale of every court were the aim of… Read more

March 2, 2018
Do charities believe in the principle of rehabilitation?

The reputation of aid charities has had a terrible battering recently. They are wounded and… Read more

February 23, 2018
And get me to the court, get me to the court, for Gawd’s sake, get me to the court on time

FTA is the bane of a police officer’s life. If a defendant doesn’t turn up… Read more

February 17, 2018
Court closures – trying to get a quart into a pint pot?

How many courts do you need to close before the system grinds to a halt? … Read more

February 9, 2018
Does the digital court reform programme risk more “enemies of the people” accusations?

This week some twitter wags pointed out that in having huge technical problems with video… Read more

February 3, 2018
The potential harm of video court hearings – its not just about crime

“The absence of the applicant in the court automatically depersonalises him/her. His/her feelings and emotions… Read more

January 25, 2018
The children of mothers in prison – how can we avoid the collateral damage?

  “Emotionally, it’s terrible. It’s like they’ve changed so much, they’ve got behavioural problems. They… Read more

January 19, 2018
When is a consultation not a consultation? More on digital court reform

I have badgered the Ministry of Justice to do a proper public consultation on their… Read more

January 13, 2018
Why is Scotland raising its age of criminal responsibility, but not England and Wales?

Some independent reviews make a huge difference. In 1964 the “Kilbrandon” report was published. Lord… Read more

January 1, 2018
Why is the courts service spending at least £30 million on management consultants?

I had heard through the grapevine that the courts service in England and Wales (HMCTS)… Read more

December 23, 2017
Kicked into the long grass – how independent reviews on justice get sidelined

This is the second Christmas where the Ministry of Justice has slipped out their response… Read more

December 16, 2017
The question is not why the Scottish prison population has fallen, but why it hasn’t fallen further

If crime falls significantly you’d expect the prison population to fall too. That has happened in… Read more

December 7, 2017
The mysterious decline of the out of court disposal

In the old days people would talk of the neighbourhood bobby giving a teenager a… Read more

December 1, 2017
Scotland – where criminal justice is part of social justice

If my family ties were not down south, I would be tempted to up sticks… Read more

November 24, 2017
Scotland – a far off land of which we know too little?

You would never know from what you read in London based newspapers that Scotland had… Read more

November 17, 2017
Video links make court into “another virtual experience” – a prisoner speaks

This week is a guest “blog” from a serving prisoner who wrote to me about… Read more

November 11, 2017
Click here to plead guilty – the latest on online courts

It has gone a bit quiet on the online criminal court front. The Queens’ Speech… Read more

November 3, 2017
Nobody’s problem – our crazy criminal records system

I often reflect on how and why change happens. Mostly luck is involved and/or influential… Read more

October 22, 2017
Defendants on video – conveyor belt justice or a revolution in access?

New report on virtual justice (video courts) published today

October 22, 2017
Convenience is the lowest common denominator of access to justice

Convenience is great when all others things are equal. Making services easy to access is… Read more

October 19, 2017
Rude judges may have no idea of the harm they cause

The recent twitter discussion of rude judges was disturbing and surprising. Lawyers (particularly on twitter)… Read more

October 13, 2017
Crime reduction: are we barking up the wrong tree?

What has Richard Thaler’s Nobel prize got to do with the new Sentencing Council draft… Read more

October 6, 2017
The blame game: who bears responsibility for the rise in the prison population?

I tread incredibly warily in this space. Greater minds than mine turned on Andrew Adonis… Read more

September 29, 2017
“Lost in translation”? Fighting for your liberty on video

“I’ve only had one good experience with video link, and I’ve had lots of experience,… Read more

September 22, 2017
No other Western adversarial system denies defendants legal representation

Our criminal justice system is fiercesomely complicated – so complex that the Law Commission has… Read more

September 15, 2017
The only way to reduce the prison population is to recognise that prison is a dead end

The clarion call to reduce the numbers in prison is being heard. Yesterday the Centre… Read more

September 8, 2017
Is justice seen to be done in the eyes of BAME communities?

The Lammy review is both depressing and uplifting – depressing because it suggests institutional racism… Read more

August 31, 2017
Should judges be accountable for criminal justice budgets?

This week the blog is an extract from Rethinking Judicial Independence, a think piece we… Read more

August 26, 2017
If we don’t know why the prison population is rising, we have little hope of halting the rise

Who am I to comment on Ministry of Justice sentencing statistics? I am neither a… Read more

August 19, 2017
A child’s right to a fair trial

Few dare to criticise the Court of Appeal. Lawyers (rightly) fear any criticism may be… Read more

August 11, 2017
Why are do we imprison mothers for crimes like tampering with an electricity meter?

Mostly I retain faith in the humanity of all who work in the criminal justice… Read more

August 6, 2017
Are magistrates second class citizens in the judicial hierarchy?

Magistrates used to be almost self-governing. They controlled the budgets of their court, the employment… Read more

August 3, 2017
Between a rock and a hard place – should judges be “out of touch”?

This is a guest blog from an experienced magistrate – Benjamyn Damazer – inspired by… Read more

July 28, 2017
New report on judicial independence published

Transform Justice has today published a think-piece on judicial independence – a collection of essays… Read more

July 28, 2017
Are judges gagged?

This week the Times announced that Peter Herbert QC (Recorder and Tribunal Judge) is suing the Ministry… Read more

July 22, 2017
Most crime is committed by immature young men

How should we deal with young people – they are the most likely to commit… Read more

July 6, 2017
When society fails to protect children, some will turn to serious crime

When a 16 year old is sexually exploited we call them a child, and their… Read more

July 2, 2017
If we don’t know the impact of any programme, we shouldn’t keep on running it

Learning from failure is good, but not if it takes over twenty years to do… Read more

June 22, 2017
Throwing good money after bad? Probation today

There is a broad consensus about how to support people on their release from prison…. Read more

June 16, 2017
On screen but disconnected? The reality of virtual justice

I visited Chatham magistrates’ court this week. It’s opposite a busy shopping centre but I… Read more

June 9, 2017
Post election, can we take a rain check on virtual justice?

The electorate has spoken and we have ended up with a minority Conservative government. The… Read more

June 3, 2017
New survey on virtual courts

If you have experience of working with defendants/offenders appearing on video links or are a… Read more

June 1, 2017
Appeals are the lifeblood of a functioning criminal justice system, but we may need a transfusion

No system gets everything right, however well intentioned those involved. Our system of underfunded courts… Read more

May 26, 2017
Are we imprisoning too many innocent people?

There are many people in prison who insist they are innocent. I’m very concerned about… Read more

May 19, 2017
Our criminal records system is broken and needs radical reform

Currently anyone who was convicted of shop-lifting twice when they were 12 has to declare… Read more

May 12, 2017
Ethnic minority defendants have very little faith in the criminal justice system

‘It was me against them. Coming from an Asian Muslim background, I didn’t see anyone… Read more

May 6, 2017
Do suspended sentences work better than community sentences?

The suspended sentence has a bad name. It is a sword of Damocles hanging over… Read more

April 21, 2017
Why the crown court is not the right place to try children

The twittersphere is alive with lawyers indignant that children accused of serious crimes are increasingly… Read more

April 13, 2017
Is judicial discipline either just or effective?

The judicial discipline system is broken. Part-time judges and magistrates are publicly named and shamed,… Read more

April 6, 2017
How to increase trust in the family justice system

Damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Judges (and social workers) in the family… Read more

April 2, 2017
Those who plead not guilty are not “gaming the system”

I increasingly experience two different criminal justice systems.  One peopled by IT specialists, the police… Read more

March 26, 2017
Should the judiciary speak out more?

I don’t often agree wholeheartedly with the Lord Chancellor, but when it comes to who… Read more

March 18, 2017
Do criminals deserve to be punished three times for one crime?

“An eye for an eye” is a strongly held belief – that those who cause… Read more

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… Read more

March 10, 2017
Online justice – a cautionary tale

If you are charged with speeding, or driving without insurance, and admit guilt, you can… Read more

March 3, 2017
The crisis in judicial morale – is more money the answer?

Group think is very powerful.  There is group think about why it is difficult to… Read more

February 24, 2017
The new prisons and courts bill – a Pandora’s Box?

The criminal courts charge was a policy fiasco – a charge to be applied to… Read more

February 17, 2017
Unintended but costly consequences

I wrote last week that the government were moving hell for leather to implement online… Read more

February 10, 2017
How can justice be “seen to be done” in an online system?

The government is proceeding hell for leather with online justice both in the civil and… Read more

February 4, 2017
Failing to turn up to meetings does not deserve imprisonment

Only in our mad, mad criminal justice system would you punish someone more severely for… Read more

January 27, 2017
A day in the life of a South London magistrates’ court

I spend a lot of time reading accounts of court life on twitter and blogs,… Read more

January 22, 2017
Is justice being sacrificed for convenience?

Andrew Langdon QC, the new Chairman of the Bar, recently said that justice has a… Read more

January 14, 2017
Magistrates and district judges – two sides of the same coin?

Magistrates and district judges (DJs) occupy the same court space and do more or less… Read more

January 6, 2017
Does it matter whether judges know the outcome of their decisions?

When I first found out that magistrates do not find out either that their decisions… Read more

December 30, 2016
Is the magistrates’ disciplinary process fair and open?

It seems slightly odd that volunteers might face disciplinary action involving public reprimands and harsh… Read more

December 20, 2016
Reform of youth justice – a lost opportunity?

Occasionally there is a golden opportunity for radical change and it is seized. Unfortunately, the… Read more

December 12, 2016
What price should we pay for consistency in sentencing?

Ten years ago there was post-code sentencing for under 18 year olds convicted of serious… Read more

December 8, 2016
Tacking teenage knife crime – is prison the answer?

“Once two boys tried to rob me. They were bigger than me, but when I… Read more

December 3, 2016
The mystery of sentence inflation

It is clear that prisons are full to bursting, and that it would be good… Read more

November 29, 2016
Should magistrates get greater sentencing powers?

I risk the wrath of magistrates up and down the land in opposing the extension… Read more

November 26, 2016
Do we need tougher community sentences?

This week the Lord Chief Justice implied that too many people were imprisoned, and that… Read more

November 16, 2016
Is there institutional racism in the criminal justice system?

The MacPherson report on Stephen Lawrence defined institutional racism as “the collective failure of an… Read more

November 14, 2016
The modern ballad of Reading Gaol – a guest blog from Roma Hooper

“In the great prison where I was incarcerated, I was merely the figure and the… Read more

November 11, 2016
No conviction is trivial – the flaw in online guilty pleas

Very few people in this country understand the implications of a criminal conviction until they… Read more

November 6, 2016
Why don’t prosecutors pick up the phone to defence advocates?

“The system is overstretched and disjointed. About two-thirds of Crown Court trials are delayed or do… Read more

October 27, 2016
Does the public benefit from being kept in the dark?

I am a passionate believer in free speech and open justice, but I also believe… Read more

October 19, 2016
A magistracy in crisis?

The Justice Committee does not use the word crisis in its new report on the… Read more

October 14, 2016
Is the magistracy still a democratic institution?

The magistracy is in theory a democratic institution: representatives of the people sit in judgement… Read more

October 8, 2016
Court reform: a view from the south

This post is really a homage to “One Wheel on my Wagon” from a criminal… Read more

October 2, 2016
What court process is really in the best interest of witnesses?

No-one denies that the experience of giving evidence in a criminal trial can be traumatic,… Read more

September 22, 2016
Our justice system – the finest in the world?

In this best of possible worlds, everything is for the best This panglossian view of… Read more

September 11, 2016
If we want teenagers to stop committing crime why do we make them live alone in bed and breakfast accommodation?

A few months ago an inspection report hit the headlines because it revealed that women… Read more

September 2, 2016
Where is the line which judges should not cross?

Judge Patricia Lynch certainly crossed a line in a recent case.  A defendant called her… Read more

August 30, 2016
Is “fair” a dangerous word to use about women and justice?

  Philip Davies MP sparked outrage a few weeks ago when his views on women’s… Read more

August 2, 2016
Why facts don’t persuade (on their own)

  The FrameWorks Institute has just published research, commissioned by Transform Justice (with Clinks, CJA and… Read more

July 29, 2016
Why people don’t care how much the criminal justice system costs

  The criminal justice system in England and Wales costs a lot – at least… Read more

July 24, 2016
Are convictions in historic sex abuse cases reliable?

How can anyone judge who is telling the truth now in the case of alleged… Read more

July 16, 2016
A letter to the new Lord Chancellor

  Dear Liz, Welcome to your new role. You are faced with a number of… Read more

July 10, 2016
Are court charges setting offenders up to fail?

The dreaded criminal courts charge has been abolished, but courts are still left with a… Read more

July 1, 2016
Is the appeal system the only way judges’ mistakes can be addressed?

Ben Butler is an intriguing man.  Someone with a history of violence, he was convicted… Read more

June 23, 2016
Are the best magistrates voting with their feet?

“Sarah” was a magistrate for over fifteen years, and had many years left to serve. … Read more

June 17, 2016
Drugs reform: an idea whose time has come?

Our prisons are awash with drugs, as the recent BBC film of Wandsworth prison revealed,… Read more

June 12, 2016
Should the number of magistrates be more than halved?

Shailesh Vara, the minister for courts, told the Justice Committee last Tuesday that the Ministry… Read more

June 2, 2016
Do tough sentences deter crime?

Nearly half the British population supports the death penalty and two thirds agree with the… Read more

May 26, 2016
What problems can problem-solving courts solve?

The government is making plans to re-launch problem-solving courts.  These are an American invention, with… Read more

May 20, 2016
How do we reduce the number of women in prison?

The latest twist of the Archers story has highlighted the plight of women in the… Read more

May 14, 2016
Can we curb our addiction to the short prison sentence?

Prison is a dead end, whatever length of time you are there. The courts in… Read more

May 7, 2016
The mysterious decline of the community sentence

The decline of the community sentence could be seen to be a good thing.  After… Read more

May 2, 2016
Eternal punishment- the consequences of being caught twice for shop-lifting aged 10

“I have two convictions. Both happened 38-years ago when I was a juvenile. The first… Read more

April 23, 2016
Justice Denied? Unrepresented defendants in the criminal courts

Transform Justice has published new research on the experience of unrepresented defendants in the criminal… Read more

April 23, 2016
Unrepresented defendants in the courts : a travesty of justice?

Unfortunately we don’t have equality of arms when it comes to unrepresented defendants.  After a… Read more

April 17, 2016
Setting women prisoners up to fail?

Its great to read a positive prison inspection report, as the one for Bronzefield was… Read more

April 9, 2016
Standing alone – the experience of unrepresented litigants

“Jarndyce and Jarndyce drones on. This scarecrow of a suit has, in the course of… Read more

April 1, 2016
Are magistrates using prison because they don’t know enough about community alternatives?

Its reassuring in a way to see how concerned magistrates themselves are about deficiencies in… Read more

March 27, 2016
Why wholescale reform of the magistracy should come before increasing their ability to use prison

It is an anomaly in the Western world to have judges with no legal training… Read more

March 20, 2016
The holy grail of the digital court

Judges and HMCTS staff seem to have put their faith in digitisation to resolve most… Read more

March 12, 2016
Are legal fees topsy turvy?

This week a car driver was acquitted of the charge of dangerous driving. A common… Read more

March 4, 2016
Two thirds of Crown Court trials do not go ahead as planned

The latest report from the National Audit Office on efficiency in the criminal courts makes… Read more

February 24, 2016
Does the “doctrine” of judicial independence stifle magistrates?

Judicial independence is a safeguard of a fair justice system. Judges need to be independent… Read more

February 19, 2016
Why do we have so many prisoners who are not convicted?

It is one of the cardinal principles of our justice system that people are innocent… Read more

February 11, 2016
What is the point of a child serving 108 days in prison?

Youth justice is my passion, and the reason I remain optimistic about the criminal justice… Read more

February 4, 2016
Should judges use instinct?

When Mr Justice Coulson decided to identify fifteen year old Will Cornick, after sentencing him… Read more

January 28, 2016
Can Gove change the prison debate single handed?

“It is because I am a Conservative that I believe in the rule of law… Read more

January 22, 2016
Should we be prosecuting historic sex crimes?

Today the Prime Minister said “there’s an industry trying to profit from spurious claims lodged… Read more

January 16, 2016
How many prisoners are languishing in prison who legally shouldn’t be there?

Around 100 people are imprisoned in England and Wales every year for non payment of… Read more

January 9, 2016
Are judges too soft?

This week judges were again under fire for being too soft.  The Sun described judges… Read more

December 13, 2015
Is confidence in the justice system at rock bottom?

Adults in the UK are more likely to have had experience of a court case,… Read more

December 4, 2015
Devolution revolution – would it help reduce prison numbers?

England and Wales has one of the most centralised criminal justice systems and one of… Read more

November 27, 2015
An uncomfortable truth- the strong link between poverty and crime

No-one is saying that poor people commit more crime, or even that poverty causes crime…. Read more

November 21, 2015
Do children in criminal courts get the defence they need?

The Youth Court is a hidden world, where most child crime cases are heard. The… Read more

November 13, 2015
Can we afford an extra 1140 recalls to prison?

Our prison population is too high and predicted to increase.  The main driver is sentence… Read more

November 2, 2015
Court costs hurt the innocent

New report published today by Transform Justice on whether the innocent should end up bankrupt through getting… Read more

November 2, 2015
Should the justice system financially penalise the innocent?

“If someone is dragged through the courts through no fault of their own and is… Read more

November 1, 2015
The politics of the judiciary

Should we know how judges vote?  Jeremy Paxman pointed out in the Financial Times on… Read more

October 22, 2015
How can the Ministry of Justice get out of a massive financial hole?

It was reported in the Times today that Michael Gove is considering imposing a “levy”… Read more

October 16, 2015
How to reform the criminal courts charge?

It seems clear that the government will reform the criminal court charge but its not… Read more

October 11, 2015
Do judges need or want more feedback?

In most jobs people find it useful to know what the outcome of their work… Read more

October 2, 2015
The “human cost” of our outdated court system

The new(ish) Chief Executive of the Courts Service, Natalie Ceeney, is worried about the human… Read more

September 24, 2015
Why has the criminal courts charge inspired a barrage of criticism?

The Justice Committee wants to know what we think about the criminal courts charge and… Read more

September 17, 2015
What do victims want from the Crown Prosecution Service?

Political parties have vied to produce policies on how to look after victims and witnesses… Read more

September 11, 2015
Is the court system collapsing?

One of the problems with our justice system is that it is theoretically open, but… Read more

September 2, 2015
Is magistrate recruitment fair?

Magistrates are not representative of the people.  They never have been.  Things were improving in… Read more

August 26, 2015
How did the criminal court charge get through parliament?

There are now many protests about the criminal courts charge – protests that have increased… Read more

August 26, 2015
Magistrates: crisis what crisis?

No-one wants to publicise bad news. New figures on the number of magistrates show serious… Read more

July 17, 2015
Court closure – who cares?

The announcement of the proposed closure of 91 courts came as little surprise to watchers… Read more

July 9, 2015
The invisibility of magistrates – in fact and in policy

How often do you see magistrates – in plays, the news or in documentaries? I… Read more

July 1, 2015
What impact would a lawyers’ “strike” have?

It seems clear that a lawyers’ “strike” may be imminent in England and Wales.  Defence… Read more

June 26, 2015
Is better IT the answer to courtroom chaos?

It was an interesting week for court reform.  The Lord Chancellor pronounced himself shocked by… Read more

June 19, 2015
More court closures?

The latest HMCTS Annual Report is no bedtime reading but reveals some interesting developments.  The words… Read more

June 12, 2015
Of those in magistrates’ court cells, how many really need to be there?

I visited Thames Magistrates Court the other Friday.  For one of the busiest magistrates’ courts,… Read more

June 3, 2015
Are the cuts to some parts of justice costing more than they save?

I’m concerned that the Ministry of Justice is not making the savings it intended to… Read more

May 30, 2015
why we still prosecute too many people

The number of prosecutions has gone down in recent years, but when I talk to… Read more

May 23, 2015
A new injustice: lack of legal advice for those who breach anti-social behaviour injunctions

There was concern when the government proposed that the new anti-social behaviour orders should be… Read more

May 15, 2015
Unintended consequences of court reform?

Its a cliche to say that government works in silos, but true nonetheless.  And those… Read more

May 6, 2015
Eviction, damp, harassment – housing problems cause misery but legal help is in short supply

The reality of how people get evicted comes alive in a series of brilliant blogs… Read more

May 1, 2015
Do politicians use evidence in talking about crime?

Sense about science are worried that politicians don’t always use evidence correctly when talking about… Read more

April 25, 2015
can we learn from the way French judges supervise offenders?

So much is different in the French criminal justice system from the English, starting with… Read more

April 18, 2015
Lord Neuberger advocates that justice should be “the best we can do”

The President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger gave a very human speech the other… Read more

April 9, 2015
We need to put restorative justice centre stage if its ever going to work

There is huge goodwill towards restorative justice, but unfortunately goodwill has not really got it… Read more

April 4, 2015
How can we engage the media in reporting about offenders and prisons?

The Howard League has recently published an essay on how voluntary sector organisations advocating for… Read more

March 31, 2015
Panorama on litigants in person

Is the only answer to the squeeze on legal aid to find more funding for… Read more

March 25, 2015
The power of a financial incentive in reducing imprisonment

The Lord Chancellor has given CRCs a financial incentive to reduce offending under a payment… Read more

March 13, 2015
How open can a judge be? Meet Judge Cristi Danilet of Romania

I never thought I’d meet a judge like Cristi Danilet.  At an excellent seminar today… Read more

March 4, 2015
A fair justice system…even for the wealthy?

The government’s measures to get more money from the court system affect access to justice… Read more

February 27, 2015
are new laws the answer to victims’ dissatisfaction with the system?

Victims have long voiced unhappiness about their treatment by the criminal justice system.  Their unhappiness… Read more

February 19, 2015
A fog surrounding unrepresented defendants in the criminal courts

The civil courts are bring thrown into chaos by the number of litigants in person… Read more

February 13, 2015
Judges feel they are subject to too much change and insufficient reward

A fascinating study has been published based on a survey of paid judges at every… Read more

February 1, 2015
can we change the debate on criminal justice?

“Committing a crime is always a choice. That’s why the primary, proper response to crime… Read more

January 28, 2015
Radical ideas from Leveson – the impact of prisoner transport on criminal courts

The new Leveson report on efficiency in criminal proceedings contains a number of radical ideas.  One… Read more

January 18, 2015
whence the magistracy? will numbers of JPs fall below 20,000?

Lord Beecham has recently asked some key questions about magistrate numbers.  Numbers overall have fallen… Read more

January 11, 2015
Can you and should you manage the performance of magistrates?

Volunteers are not employees. They are working for an organisation because they want to help…. Read more

January 1, 2015
Is magistrates’ training fit for purpose?

Spend on magistrates’ training has gone down from £110 per magistrate in 2008/9, to £26 per… Read more

December 25, 2014
should judges speak out in response to criticism?

Judges never do media interviews and never give statements about particular cases.  But should they?… Read more

December 18, 2014
Reading between the lines of the Lord Chief Justice’s annual report

The Lord Chief Justice cannot criticise government policy so its worth both reading the text… Read more

December 12, 2014
New report on difference in cost between lay magistrates and DJs

The way work is shared between lay magistrates and district judges can be a bone… Read more

December 6, 2014
Right on crime – is it only possible for conservatives to do penal reform?

Danny Kruger presented a great programme for BBC Radio 4 on “Right on Crime”, the… Read more

December 2, 2014
Its all in the implementation

I’m a big picture person and took my eye off the ball after the government… Read more

November 19, 2014
“Judicial Diversity: Accelerating Change”

For quite a radical report “Judicial diversity: accelerating change” didn’t get much coverage.  It was… Read more

November 9, 2014
The controversy surrounding giving magistrates greater sentencing powers

I’m not sure why Simon Hughes wanted to stop magistrates having increased sentencing powers but… Read more

November 2, 2014
How to restore local justice

Few think-tanks devote much time to the diminution of local justice.  But Politeia has just… Read more

October 23, 2014
Are judges more or less independent than in 2000?

What has happened to judicial independence and accountability in the last twenty years?  There have… Read more

October 11, 2014
a truly radical English Judge?

Lord Justice Ryder is an unusual judge, having started his working life as an investment… Read more

October 5, 2014
Are courts in chaos?

Two recent articles have given a glimpse of the impact of austerity on magistrates’ courts…. Read more

September 29, 2014
I’m truly impressed by Ireland’s reform of penal policy

I wouldn’t have known about Ireland’s fantastic new penal policy without twitter – @lukecareypact tweeted… Read more

September 19, 2014
Magistrates…small steps to increase diversity?

If you want to become a magistrate, there are very few areas in the country… Read more

September 12, 2014
What to learn from the success of the Family Drug and Alcohol Court?

Why has one type of specialist court succeeded in England and Wales while others have… Read more

September 6, 2014
Doing what works to cut crime – the new LibDem ideas

The LibDems have always supported human rights and open justice.  Its a pity that they… Read more

August 31, 2014
Magistrate numbers: terminal decline?

Magistrate numbers are at their lowest level since I’m not sure when.  Judiciary figures for… Read more

July 28, 2014
The Lord Chief Justice is proud of judicial training but where is the evidence?

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, recently described the Judicial  College as one of the… Read more

July 15, 2014
Ann Aiken: a truly different federal judge

On my travels so far, people have distinguished the Federal Justice System from the State… Read more

June 25, 2014
Not all US judges are gung-ho about problem solving

I met the retired DA (elected public prosecutor) of Portland and enjoyed his take on… Read more

June 25, 2014
Measure 11- power to the people?

I’m all for giving power to the people, but only if the people are very… Read more

June 24, 2014
Why is it so difficult to embed problem-solving courts in England and Wales?

My experience in USA has made me ask why it is so difficult to embed… Read more

June 24, 2014
Judging the performance of judges – a US approach

There is no doubt in my mind that electing judges is a bad idea.  Most… Read more

June 21, 2014
Bitten by the specialist court bug?

I think I’ve been bitten by the specialist court bug and need to pinch myself… Read more

June 21, 2014
How to get the bus to stop right outside the court

Michigan has way more court-rooms per head of population than England.  Every town of any… Read more

June 21, 2014
Therapeutic jurisprudence in action – the Baltimore drug court

In the short time I’ve been in USA I have seen some amazing judges.  Or… Read more

June 19, 2014
Fines – a transatlantic problem

The imposition of fines is at the cornerstone of both US and English justice.  Fines… Read more

June 18, 2014
The veterans’ court graduation – an emotional experience

I have never seen so many offenders say thank-you in a court as I did… Read more

June 18, 2014
Setting up the Detroit homeless court- a truly collaborative effort

The effort involved in getting the Street Outreach court in Detroit off the ground was… Read more

June 14, 2014
Elections for the judiciary in USA – a barrier to penal reform?

In many states of the  USA, judges are elected by the people.  And in some… Read more

June 13, 2014
A glimpse into the juvenile court in Washington DC

Most children under 18 are seen by the juvenile court in DC.  All court proceedings… Read more

June 11, 2014
A mental health court in DC – adversarial or inquisitorial?

To my shame, I have never visited a mental health court in England.  But I… Read more

June 11, 2014
US judges – involved or aloof?

This morning in Washington DC I observed a very busy drugs court.  The judge, Gregory… Read more

June 10, 2014
Has the West London drugs court closed and does it matter?

The West London Drugs Court was set up in 2007, led by a charismatic District… Read more

June 10, 2014
“Man is born free, but is everywhere in chains”

The symbolism of chains is very strong – for me it evokes slavery and a… Read more

June 8, 2014
Reduction in child custody- a US success story

Its easy to get gloomy about mass incarceration in USA.  The numbers are so huge… Read more

June 6, 2014
How single-minded should those campaigning against the death penalty be?

Sometimes campaigners can stab each other in the back unwittingly.  In England and Wales, there… Read more

June 4, 2014
Are US judges interested in penal reform?

Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Project offered a sobering statistic.  If the prison population of the… Read more

June 4, 2014
Working to upskill lawyers who defend children…a shining light in the US youth justice system

The National Juvenile Defender Center is a brilliant idea – an NGO which campaigns for and… Read more

June 4, 2014
US judges – more innovative than English judges but still lacking organisational power

It’s depressing but also uplifting to hear about the US system of criminal justice.  I’m… Read more

June 2, 2014
Treating child defandants as adults – a US phenomenon

I have arrived in the land of the free only to be depressed about children… Read more

May 30, 2014
Interpreters – a duff contract?

When I was a magistrate,  interpreters were frequent used to aid defendant, witness or both…. Read more

May 23, 2014
Do magistrates need more TLC…and management?

There is low morale on many magistrates’ benches.  This is due to budget cuts, a… Read more

May 16, 2014
Magistrates and school governors…a similar crisis in diversity?

A report came out this week suggesting that the governors of schools do not reflect… Read more

May 6, 2014
the continuous “arms race” in criminal justice

One of the reasons why our prisons are full to bursting is because our sentencing… Read more

April 26, 2014
a piecemeal approach to the fall out from cutting legal aid?

The number of people involved in court or tribunal cases who don’t have a lawyer… Read more

April 20, 2014
Is Labour radical enough on criminal justice?

Labour has published a policy paper on criminal justice (and other issues) for consultation with… Read more

April 14, 2014
A letter to the Lord Chief Justice

Dear Lord Chief Justice, Of all your recent public appearances, I most appreciated your appearance… Read more

April 9, 2014
The upsides and downsides of being a magistrate today

“I have been a magistrate for 26 years and I’m as enthusiastic as the first… Read more

April 1, 2014
Why have a lay magistracy? The magistrates’ view

‘It’s sort of like the community elder. You sit on the bench, and you live… Read more

March 25, 2014
A pro magistrate government?

Damian Green, Minister of State across the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice is… Read more

March 19, 2014
How punitive can you be? The criminal justice arms race

How punitive is the man on the Clapham omnibus?  It is a subject that divides… Read more

March 6, 2014
Is the magistracy too middle class? a difference of opinion

Transform Justice’s new research on the make-up of the magistracy was launched at the end… Read more

March 4, 2014
Diversity matters in the youth and family court too

When I decided to apply to be a magistrate, my passion was family justice.  I… Read more

February 26, 2014
Magistrates: representatives of the people?

Transform Justice’s new report is published today.  Its about the make-up of the magistracy today… Read more

February 11, 2014
Should magistrates sit alone?

Last week, the government published yet another criminal justice bill.  More change is problematic –… Read more

February 3, 2014
Justice reinvestment – the holy grail for criminal justice reform?

The most effective means of reducing offending lie outside the remit of the justice system.  … Read more

January 31, 2014
The importance of gay magistrates

Transform Justice’s recent report on diversity made no mention of sexual orientation. This was not… Read more

January 24, 2014
Is there a better process for recruiting magistrates?

The magistrate recruitment process takes longer than any recruitment process I’ve ever heard of. Two… Read more

January 17, 2014
Are magistrates facing a diversity crisis?

Magistrates are less diverse now than in 1999.  They are on average older and less… Read more

January 14, 2014
Why has the magistracy shrunk?

If the value of the magistracy is justice by the people for the people, why… Read more

January 10, 2014
Should legal sanctions be used against annoying people?

This week peers voted against the government’s new definition of anti-social behaviour – conduct capable… Read more

January 4, 2014
Unrepresented defendants in the criminal court: a ticking timebomb?

“Just watched as court sent unrep’d def to prison. He didnt say a word through… Read more

December 20, 2013
Is further courts privatisation credible?

The involvement of G4S and Serco with fraudulent tagging has been well publicised.  The two… Read more

December 13, 2013
Magistrates: representative of the people?

How representative should magistrates be of their community?  A report came out today from Policy… Read more

December 7, 2013
Let the punishment fit the crime

A fair criminal justice system is one where mistakes can be easily, and fairly painlessly,… Read more

November 28, 2013
When is a pilot not a pilot?

Post riots, the Ministry of Justice announced that they were going to pilot more flexible… Read more

November 23, 2013
Who shot JR?

Can justice reinvestment be successful in a very centralised political system?  That was the question… Read more

November 17, 2013
Should more ex-offenders be magistrates?

Many ex-offenders are probably already magistrates.  A huge proportion of the male population has been… Read more

November 8, 2013
The schism within this government on localism

Is this government localist or not?  In the justice sphere they veer every which way…. Read more

November 1, 2013
Is harsher punishment the answer to hate crime?

Mencap and other charities have been waging a campaign for many years to get crime… Read more

October 27, 2013
Sentencing consistency…does it matter?

Lord Leveson gave the Howard League lecture this week on consistency in sentencing, particularly citing… Read more

October 18, 2013
How to retain a vibrant magistracy?

John Fassenfelt, outgoing Chairman of the Magistrates’ Association, has inspired the setting up of an… Read more

October 12, 2013
Radical change in the courts?

Keir Starmer has given a retirement interview to the Times in which he calls for… Read more

September 30, 2013
A seemingly dry document?

A lot of the documents coming out of the Ministry of Justice and the Judicial… Read more

September 26, 2013
A new dawn for Labour justice policy?

Sadiq Khan, Shadow Justice Minister, addressed the Labour Party Conference this week.  The speech didn’t… Read more

September 18, 2013
Should judges be judged?

Judges are perhaps the only public servants left who are not subject to any performance… Read more

September 11, 2013
Better courts: do they need structural change?

Courts in England and Wales get a bad press, being seen as inefficient, old fashioned… Read more

September 6, 2013
Crime and Guilt: punishment the German Way

I read one of the best books ever on criminal justice on holiday.  A friend… Read more

September 1, 2013
Intriguing new interest in magistrates

Why has this government suddenly focused a spotlight on magistrates and their powers?  No-one seems… Read more

July 26, 2013
No privatisation of the courts…or is there?

In late May the Times revealed that the government was planning to privatise courts administration…. Read more

July 19, 2013
Crime falls but desire for harsh punishment remains

Crime has fallen significantly yet again by 9/7% depending on which figures you use.  Hooray!… Read more

July 12, 2013
Is post-code sentencing inevitable?

There will always be some differences between courts in their sentencing.  An Inner London court… Read more

July 5, 2013
are the courts prepared for no lawyers?

There have been hundreds of people appearing in courts without a lawyer for a long… Read more

June 28, 2013
Why shouldn’t judges tell personal stories?

A judge was recently reprimanded for telling a cannabis cultivator to “jack-in” drugs. An experienced… Read more

June 21, 2013
What difference do women judges make?

Do women judges make decisions differently to male judges? According to a small scale experiment… Read more

June 16, 2013
Does the Secretary of State for Justice need to be a lawyer?

Chris Grayling is the first Lord Chancellor not to be a lawyer (I think). Previously… Read more

June 7, 2013
Are courts inefficient?

I met an MP the other day and asked him whether he supported any kind… Read more

May 27, 2013
New report on courts published today

and can be downloaded from our reports page. And the Times has written about moves… Read more

May 14, 2013
Does it matter who runs magistrates’ courts?

Why does the closure of every library inspire massive public protest while plans to close… Read more

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