Police Minister Nick Herbert to announce criminal justice plans
Published: 13th Jul 2012 03:05:09
Criminals could be dealt with in days or hours under plans to introduce "swift and sure justice" and flexible court hours, ministers are to reveal.
Police Minister Nick Herbert will set out the plans in a White Paper along with others such as more court video links and tougher community sentences.
And neighbourhood justice panels will see local people decide how offenders should make amends for low level crime.
Mr Herbert is set to say last summer's riots showed justice can be swift.
In the aftermath of the unrest, courts across England opened for longer and over the weekend to deal with the large volume of people to be processed through the criminal justice system.
In October, Prime Minister David Cameron said the public wanted to see speedy justice, adding that if it was possible in the wake of the riots then "let's make sure we do it all the time".
Typically, nearly five months pass between an offence taking place and a sentence being handed down, despite the fact that most cases do not have to go to trial or are uncontested.
The neighbourhood justice panels, aimed at helping people deal with anti-social behaviour and low-level offending in their community, have already been trialled in three areas and will be tested in a further 15.
The Ministry of Justice says the panels will directly involve the victim and community in deciding action on the part of the perpetrator that is meaningful, visible and based in the community itself.
And magistrates will be given a stronger role in community justice, with single magistrates sitting outside of courts, such as in community centres, in order to "dispense rapid and effective justice in low-level, uncontested cases".
Police will be given simpler guidance on how to deal with offenders, under the plans.
And magistrates will have the power to check officers' use of cautions and penalty notices following concerns that serious and persistent offenders were escaping justice.
Under the proposals:
Mr Herbert is expected to say it is "a basic principle of justice that it should be delivered without delay, yet straightforward cases that could be dealt with in days or even hours are taking weeks and months".
"Justice delayed is justice denied, and victims are the biggest losers," the minister is due to say.
Mr Herbert will also say "the new focus on delivering swift and sure justice will support the police, give communities a voice, and reduce crime".
The Association of Chief Police Officers said greater efficiency "has to be in the best interests of victims, prosecution and defence witnesses and all parties within the wider criminal justice system".
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Police Minister Nick Herbert to announce criminal justice plans. [Online] (Updated 13 Jul 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news.php/1440288-Police-Minister-Nick-Herbert-to-announce-criminal-justice-plans [Accessed 10th May 2013]
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