Criminal justice system “creaking at seams”
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Watching BBC’s Breakfast News, I heard a disturbing account from a victim of crime as to how her trial had suffered multiple delays. She was followed by a barrister, Geoff Whelan who pointed out that the number of lawyers working for the Crown Prosecution Service had fallen by a third, and that the Ministry of Justice’s budget had suffered huge cuts since 2010. The problem as he put it succinctly, was not the lawyers but the lack of money.
The Public Accounts Committee has said that the criminal justice is "bedevilled by long-standing poor performance, including delays and inefficiencies". Cuts of over 25% have affected the ability of courts to deliver justice. Some two-thirds of trials in crown courts were delayed or did not go ahead at all and there is a backlog of 51,830 cases awaiting a hearing as of September last year with an average 134-day wait between cases leaving magistrates' courts and the start of crown court proceedings.
Some 55% of witnesses have said they would not be willing to be witnesses again,
The committee warned that the Ministry of Justice had "exhausted the scope to cut costs without pushing the system beyond breaking point".
The Ministry of Justice has promised over £2bn of investment, to build what it calls “a swifter, more certain justice system”.
Our experience is that court delays are particularly harrowing for survivors of abuse, and cuts in the CPS may also mean that the prosecution of abusers does not go ahead, or fails.
We want to ensure that a better court and tribunal system is created for those who are brave enough to report a crime and see the promised financial investment as a welcome step for abuse survivors.
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