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Criminal Justice

Social media guidance

New Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) guidance setting out the range of offences for which social media users could face prosecution was published on Monday and will be used to inform decisions on whether criminal charges should be pursued.

The new social media guidelines for prosecutors make clear that those who encourage others to participate in online harassment campaigns – known as ‘virtual mobbing’ – can face charges of encouraging an offence under the Serious Crime Act 2007.

Examples of potentially criminal behaviour include making available personal information, for example a home address or bank details – a practice known as “doxxing” – or creating a derogatory hashtag to encourage harassment of victims.

The CPS’s social media guidelines also cover attacks on disabled people, violence against women and girls, and racial and religious, homophobic and transphobic hate crime. CPS hope that publication will stimulate debate about the limits of free speech online and may help develop a clearer consensus about what is acceptable behaviour.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Alison Saunders, said: “Social media can be used to educate, entertain and enlighten but there are also people who use it to bully, intimidate and harass. Ignorance is not a defence and perceived anonymity is not an escape.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said: “The internet’s not an anonymous place where people can post without any consequences. People should think about their own conduct. If you are grossly abusive to people, if you are bullying or harassing people online, then we will prosecute in the same way as if you did it offline.”

The changes come after a report found that one in four teenagers is abused online over their sexual orientation, race, religion, gender or disability.

But sexting – exchanging sexualised images – between those aged under 18 should not normally become the subject of a police investigation if it involves children of a similar age in a relationship, the Crown Prosecution Service has recommended.

In more serious cases consideration may be given to the offence of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Another practice that may be considered illegal is “baiting” – humiliating someone by labelling them as sexually promiscuous or posting images to disparage victims.

Released during Hate Crime Awareness Week, Monday also saw the launch of CPS Public Policy Statements on Hate Crime which will now be put to a public consultation. The DPP said: “Our latest Hate Crime Report showed that in 2015-16 more hate crime prosecutions were completed than ever before. More than four in five prosecuted hate crimes result in a conviction; with over 73 per cent guilty pleas, which is good news for victims. We have undertaken considerable steps to improve our prosecution of hate crime and we are committed to sustaining these efforts.” Consultation on the CPS guidelines lasts for 13 weeks.

PS. The speed of u-turning continues apace. The last blog from Birmingham said: “Firms would be required to list numbers of foreign employees, and that could be divisive.” And how. Before the conference set was struck the sound of screeching brakes and changed policy could be heard across the weekend media as new home secretary Amber Rudd was left with egg on her face.

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Revenge porn

More than 200 people have been prosecuted since a new revenge porn law came into force in England and Wales last year, according to a Crown Prosecution Service report on crimes against women.

The director of public prosecutions said the cases were part of a trend of crimes committed through social media. The use of the internet to control and threaten victims was rising, she said.

It became an offence to share private sexual photographs or films without the subject’s consent in England and Wales in April 2015, with a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment. So-called revenge porn often involves an ex-partner uploading sexual images of the victim to cause the victim humiliation or embarrassment.

The CPS report said 206 people were prosecuted for disclosing private sexual images in the first year of the offence. However, Freedom of Information responses to the BBC from 31 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales showed there had been 1,160 reported incidents of revenge pornography from April 2015 to December 2015.

The responses showed some victims were as young as 11, but 61% of reported offences resulted in no action being taken against the alleged perpetrator. Among the main reasons cited by police include a lack of evidence or the victim withdrawing support for any action.

Alison Saunders said: “There is a growing trend of crimes committed on or through social media. Since the new legislation came into force, there have been over 200 prosecutions for disclosing private sexual images without consent. We have also found that defendants in controlling or coercive cases rely on tactics such as GPS tracking and monitoring phone or email messages.

“The use of the internet, social media and other forms of technology to humiliate, control and threaten individuals is rising.”

Cases of revenge pornography taken to court include a defendant who sent intimate photos of a woman to members of her family via Facebook and threatened to post further pictures online. He was sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months after he pleaded guilty to an offence of disclosing private sexual images without consent.

Another defendant posted intimate pictures of a woman, who was not aware the photographs had been taken, onto Facebook. He was sentenced to a 12 month community order, fined £110, ordered to pay court costs of £295 and given an indefinite restraining order.

However the number of prosecutions reflects a small proportion of complaints of revenge porn. More than 3,700 victims contacted a special helpline set up last year in its first 12 months.

Revenge porn became a specific offence in Scotland in April when the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Act came into effect, and was made a crime in Northern Ireland in February through the amendment of an existing law.

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Violence against Women and Girls

The Crown Prosecution Service is prosecuting and convicting a record number of rape, domestic abuse, sexual offences and child abuse cases, a report published today shows.

The CPS’s annual Violence against Women and Girls report shows that rape, domestic abuse and sexual offences now account for 18.6 per cent of the CPS’s total caseload and this figure has been increasing year on year. In 2015/16, the CPS prosecuted 117,568 defendants for all crimes grouped together as Violence against Women and Girls (VaWG).

More than 100,000 defendants were prosecuted for domestic abuse, with over 75,000 convicted, the highest volumes ever recorded, reaching the highest ever conviction rate of 75.4 per cent by March 2016. In December 2015, the new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour also came into law, and statistics show there were five prosecutions of this offence completed by the end of March 2016.

Alison Saunders said: “Domestic abuse, rape and sexual offences now account for nearly 19 per cent of our workload – an increase over the past six years from just under 9 per cent. While the volume of these cases is increasing, the report also shows the volume of convictions has risen by 11 per cent.

“Today a rape, domestic abuse, sexual offence or child abuse case is more likely to be prosecuted and convicted than ever before.”
The DPP said that historical under-reporting of offences meant that the number of cases being charged was only a proportion of the offending taking place. She said that the ease with which such crimes could be committed online was contributing to the increase in prosecutions.

Other areas where online abuse is being used as a tool of harassment and intimidation are within the record numbers of stalking cases being taken to court. In 2015-16 the CPS prosecuted more cases of stalking and harassment – 12,986 – than ever before. Of those, almost 70% involved ongoing domestic abuse, and many perpetrators used the internet or other technology to carry out the offending.

There was a 32% rise, to 2,094 cases, of sending grossly offensive or indecent messages under the Malicious Communications Act, and a 20% increase to 2,026 in similar offending under section 127 of the Communications Act. The DPP said these cases related mostly to online abuse, or abuse via text, email and other forms of technology.

Saunders went on to say: “Over the last year, I have doubled the resources in specialist units that handle rape and serious sexual offence cases, including child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. Prosecutors have received detailed training including on vulnerable victims and the issue of sexual consent. Following this work we have seen a rise in the rape conviction rate to 57.9 per cent and, significantly, there has also been a fall in the number of acquittals after trial.”

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said: “Survivors of domestic abuse are starting to have more confidence in the criminal justice system, which is why we are seeing another rise in the volume of prosecutions and convictions. However, we know that much more work is still needed, particularly in understanding of the nature and impact of coercive control, right across the criminal justice system.”

The full text of the ‘Delivering Justice’ report can be found at:

http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/docs/cps_vawg_report_2016.pdf

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Extremism in prisons

Britain’s most dangerous extremists will be locked up in isolated high-security prisons within prisons to prevent them from radicalising other inmates, the Government has announced.

Justice Secretary Liz Truss said the prison system “cannot continue” to allow extremist inmates to “pedal poisonous ideology across the mainstream prison population.”

She said: “The rise of Islamist extremism poses an existential threat to our society. I am committed to confronting and countering the spread of this poisonous ideology behind bars. Preventing the most dangerous extremists from radicalising other prisoners is essential to the safe running of our prisons and fundamental to public protection.”

Ms Truss was responding to a classified report on Islamic extremism in jails by Ian Acheson, a former Whitehall civil servant and ex-prison governor. His report was published, only in summary for security reasons, on Monday.

The new units will be built inside some of the UK’s highest security jails and house only the most extreme inmates who promote terror and violence. They are expected to be built in up to eight high secure prisons in the UK and each is likely to hold under 50 inmates.

A new “ghost train” system is to be set up in prisons in England and Wales to move the most troublesome Islamic extremist inmates between isolation units,

Ms Truss also set out plans for the removal of extremist books from prison libraries and stronger vetting of prison chaplains.

Speaking of the need for the isolated units, Mr Acheson told a select committee hearing in July: “There are a small number of people whose behaviour is so egregious in relation to proselytising this pernicious ideology, this lethal nihilistic death cult ideology, which gets magnified inside prison particularly when you have a supply of young, impulsive and often highly violent men, that they need to be completely incapacitated from being able to proselytise to the rest of the prison population.”

The review said that there was “institutional timidity” about challenging extremist views in prison, with staff fearful of being considered racist. He found Islamist radicals trying to get prison staff to leave during Friday prayers.

Truss has rejected three of the 11 recommendations made by Acheson. His proposal to ban attendance at the Friday prayers inside prisons by those who disrupt or abuse faith activity and to use innovative technology to provide an in-cell alternative has been rejected. She has also rejected Acheson’s first recommendation calling for an independent advisor on counter-terrorism in prisons, accountable directly to the justice secretary and responsible for an over-arching counter-extremism strategy.

Mr Acheson said his report had concluded that the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) which is responsible for correctional services in England and Wales, was “very far from being effective in both understanding and reacting properly to the obvious threat posed” by Islamist extremism.

Figures show there were 12,633 Muslims in prison in England and Wales as of the end of June. The number stood at 8,243 a decade earlier. As at the end of March, of the 147 people in prison for terrorism-related offences, 137 of them considered themselves to be Muslim. A separate official report published last month said that at any one time NOMS manages more than 1,000 prisoners who have been identified as extremist or vulnerable to extremism.

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City police recruit law firms tackle cyber criminals

In a pilot programme that could have huge implications for the future of cyber security law enforcement, the City of London Police will be pursuing cyber criminals through civil courts rather than criminal courts.

The force will work with private sector law firms to seize and recover assets from criminals through civil litigation procedures for the recovery of assets. Solicitors will be tasked with recouping the assets using civil litigation, potentially raising the prospect of a panel of firms pursuing cases on a no win, no fee basis or through third-party funders.

The force’s Economic Crime Directorate believes that this method will allow far quicker identification, seizure and return of assets to victims.

The two-year pilot scheme has been launched by the City of London Police. It will be deployed in tandem with asset recovery under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), adding another weapon to the armoury of law enforcers.

A working group to oversee the experiment has been set up by the City of London police, officers from the National Crime Agency, and Metropolitan police, and law and private investigation firms.

The force says the scheme is a way of more effectively tackling fraud, which is now the biggest type of crime, estimated to cost £193bn a year and overwhelming police and the criminal justice system. The Office for National Statistics said in July that there had been more than 5.8m incidents of cybercrime in the past year, enough to virtually double the headline crime rate in England and Wales.

The experiment, which is backed by the government and being closely watched by other law enforcement agencies, is expected to lead to cases reaching civil courts this year or early next year. Year one of the project will be part-funded through a £157,000 grant from the Home Office’s Police Innovation Fund. Officers have applied for similar funding for year two.

Detective Superintendent Maria Woodall, operational lead for the pilot said: ’This innovative new scheme will hopefully allow us to be more flexible and creative in how we identify and seize criminal assets in certain cases to get those funds back to the victims of crime and out of the hands of criminals.’

In July the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee produced a highly critical report on proceeds of crime, saying the regime is not fit for purpose and calling for radical reform. Its recommendations included more collaboration between public bodies involved in POCA and the private sector, and the creation of a market for private enforcement.

As reported in the ‘Gazette’, one firm that submitted evidence to the committee calling for such a market was Pinsent Masons. Alan Sheeley, head of civil fraud and asset recovery at the firm, described the pilot as a ‘vital step forward’, adding “This is a really exciting and long overdue step for law enforcement agencies in the UK.”

Less convinced, as reported in the ‘Guardian’, is Katie Wheatley, joint head of criminal law at Bindmans, a London law firm. She expressed unease over the proposals, which she said gave police “what they would regard as an easy deterrent, without having the inconvenience of proving an offence to a criminal standard.”

She said the plan risked creating a conflict between private firms’ profit motive and the fairness of the process. “We’ve seen privatisation in this context in other ways, for example prison privatisation,” she said. “We all know how badly that’s gone wrong.”

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Review into racial bias in the criminal justice system

Last January the Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, was asked by David Cameron to head a new government review into discrimination against black and ethnic minority people (BAME) in the criminal justice system.

Cameron said: “If you’re black, you’re more likely to be in a prison cell than studying at a top university. And if you’re black, it seems you’re more likely to be sentenced to custody for a crime than if you’re white. We should investigate why this is and how we can end this possible discrimination.” He said the review would address “possible sentencing and prosecutorial disparity”.

Introducing the review, Lammy said: “We know that there is disproportionate representation in the criminal justice system – the question is why. Over the course of the next year my review will search for those answers, starting with an open call for evidence to get to grips with the issues at hand.

“There is clearly an urgent need for progress to be made in this area, and the evidence received through this consultation will be crucial in identifying areas where real change can achieved.”

The review will address issues arising from the CPS involvement onwards, including the court system, in prisons and during rehabilitation in the wider community, to identify areas for reform and examples of good practice from the UK and beyond. There would be a consultation exercise. Offenders, suspects and victims were urged to share their experience of possible racial bias in the criminal justice system.

Questions in the consultation would include why respondents think black defendants are more likely to be found guilty by a jury, face custodial sentences and report a worse experience in prison than white defendants. Despite making up just 14% of the population of England and Wales, BAME individuals currently make up over a quarter of prisoners. Those who are found guilty are more likely to receive custodial sentences than white offenders.

Latest figures also show that BAME people make up a disproportionate amount of Crown Court defendants (24%), and those who are found guilty are more likely to receive custodial sentences than white offenders (61% compared to 56%).

The call for evidence closed six weeks ago, with more than 300 responses from groups and individuals in the criminal justice system.

Although the final report is not due until next summer, Lammy has determined to focus much of his report on the makeup of the judiciary, where 5% of members are from a BAME background. He said: “It is definitely the case there are some areas of criminal justice where there is a significant amount of ethnic minority lawyers. They are just not making their way to the judiciary. There are barriers [to applying] or they are not successful when they do apply.

“Relative to other professions, we have in our country a bank of BAME lawyers. What we have not seen is progress to the bench. That is what I want to look at very closely.”

Greg Foxsmith, president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association, said: “For years we have acknowledged the problem of convert or subliminal discrimination. The challenge for Lammy and for all of us in the justice system is to find a way that actually tackles the problem, and ensures that justice is not just blind, but colour-blind, providing equality of outcome for all.”

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The Lord Chancellor

When appointing a Lord Chancellor what was once rare is now almost routine.

The Coalition government in 2010 appointed Chris Grayling to the post, which is also that of Secretary of State for Justice. He was the first non lawyer to be given the job since the middle ages. It showed.

In the reshuffle following the 2015 election Michael Gove got the job. He also is not legally qualified. He made a promising start, clearing up some of the mess left by Grayling, and promising reforms. He became one of the more sensational casualties of the post referendum chaos as he was cast into the political wilderness.

Now Liz Truss has got the job. Also not legally qualified, she is the first female Lord Chancellor in the thousand-year history of the role. 41 today, she has been MP for South West Norfolk since 2010. Rapid promotion saw her appointment as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State from 2012 to 2014, with responsibility for education and childcare. She became a member of the Cabinet as Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2014. On 14 July 2016 she was appointed Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor by new Prime Minister Theresa May.

According to George Monbiot in the ‘Guardian’, interviewers have said that she is “indissolubly wedded to a set of theories about how the world should be, that are impervious to argument, facts or experience. She was among the first ministers to put her own department on the block in the latest spending review, volunteering massive cuts.”

She set courts reform as one of her top priorities during the traditional swearing-in ceremony. She also stressed she was a great supporter of reform and modernisation through the courts and tribunals system. “That urgent task will be high on my agenda in the months ahead, as I know it is for senior members of the judiciary,” she added.

Her appointment has not met with a uniform welcome. As one disgruntled contributor to the ‘Gazette’ plaintively wrote “Why do the Tories persistently want to pee off the profession by making non lawyers Lord or Lady Chancellors. It is frankly insulting.” More officially, the Tory chair of the Commons justice select committee, Bob Neill, has become the latest senior political figure to question her credentials.

As reported in the ‘Gazette’, he said “My concern is this: while it’s not necessary for the lord chancellor to have a legal background, they have a specific role under the Constitutional Reform Act to represent the interests of the judiciary and to represent the judiciary, including its independence within government.

“It helps if the person in charge has been a lawyer or has been a senior member of the cabinet. I have a concern, with no disrespect to Liz, that it would be hard for someone without that history to step straight in and fulfil that role.”

Neill’s comments follow a claim by former shadow lord chancellor Lord Falconer that prime minister Theresa May broke the law in appointing Truss. Writing in the ‘Times’, Falconer said: “The lord chancellor has to be someone with the weight and stature to stand up to the prime minister or the home secretary when, for instance, they want to compromise on complying with the law in an attempt to placate the public. Or when the politicians are determined to blame the judges when their policies go wrong.”

Lord Faulks said last week that he resigned as Lords justice spokesman over fears that Truss would not have the necessary leverage to challenge the prime minister over crucial issues such as judicial independence.

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Crime Contingency Contracts

Following justice secretary Michael Gove’s January decision to scrap a controversial ‘two-tier’ contracting regime, for which firms competed to secure one of 527 duty provider contracts, replacement contracts were expected to come into force later this year.

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) is now offering to extend current contingency contracts, which were due to expire on 10 January 2017, to 31 March 2017. Providers have until 30 June to accept the offer.

The LAA said: “This extension is needed so that we can:

  • allow the tender process and mobilisation period to be completed so providers can prepare for a new crime contract in 2017
  • ensure continuity of crime services from 11 January 2017 to the start date of the replacement crime contract Letters will be issued to all Crime Contingency Contract holders shortly. Providers will have until 23.59 on 30 June to accept the contract extension. “Any providers who do not accept the extension will retain a contract to the current end date of 10 January 2017.”

The LAA also announced that it had entered into a three week consultation with representative bodies on the content of the 2017 Standard Crime Contract on 8 June 2016. A spokesperson for the agency confirmed that the representative bodies are the Law Society, Bar Council, Legal Aid Practitioners Group and Advice Services Alliance.

As reported in the ‘Gazette’, a Law Society spokesperson said: “We are expecting the contract to be largely uncontroversial, mainly reflecting changes proposed in the draft 2015 contracts when the Legal Aid Agency drafted “own” and “duty” contracts for the two-tier arrangements.

“The Society has been working with the practitioner groups and the LAA to try to find a mechanism to mitigate the problem of “ghost” duty solicitors by tightening up the rules to ensure that only those currently active in criminal law can act as duty solicitors.”

Also quoted in the ‘Gazette’, Zoe Gascoyne, chair of the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, regretted the fact that the CLSA and the LCCSA were not statutory consultees. LCCSA president Greg Foxsmith said the association has “made the case for duty solicitor slots to remain with individual solicitors, rather than firms,” adding “with over 1,000 members in London desperate to know what the provisions of the proposed new contracts [are], it is bizarre that the LCCSA is not consulted but instead the Bar Council is invited to comment.”

One may ask why this last minute rush to deal with a well flagged matter. Could it be that the all consuming hustings for the referendum has led politicians, of all colours, to take their eyes off the ball of routine government business. Be grateful that we have a diligent, highly professional civil service to see that essential business is maintained.

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Restaurant owner jailed after peanut curry death

A restaurant owner has been jailed for six years for the manslaughter of a customer who had an allergic reaction to a curry. Customer Paul Wilson, 38, suffered a severe anaphylactic shock after eating a takeaway, containing peanuts, from the Indian Garden in Easingwold, North Yorkshire.

In what is thought to be a landmark trial, restaurateur Mohammed Zaman, 52, was found guilty at Teesside Crown Court of manslaughter by gross negligence and also six food safety offences.

Paul Wilson had asked for a nut-free takeaway and tried to make himself sick when he realised he hadn’t got what he ordered. It was too late and the anaphylactic shock killed him. The restaurateur tried to blame everyone else but himself. Zaman claimed he left managers to run his restaurants and that included ordering stock and hiring staff, telling jurors he was not on the premises when the curry was ordered.

Sentencing him, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, said Zaman had remained “in complete and utter denial” and ignored warnings from officials after a different customer with a peanut allergy, 17-year-old Ruby Scott, suffered a reaction to a curry bought from one of Mr Zaman’s six restaurants. She required hospital treatment. This was just three weeks before Mr Wilson’s death.

The case prompted a visit by a trading standards officer to Mr Zaman’s restaurant Jaipur Spice, in Easingwold, a week before Mr Wilson’s death. He found evidence of peanuts in a meal the officer had been told was peanut-free. Following this, the officer told staff that customers in all of Zaman’s restaurants must be informed they were using peanuts.

But despite warnings Zaman continued to flout advice and use the less costly ingredient without telling people. He switched almond powder for a cheaper ground nut mix, which contained peanuts. Mohammed Zaman’s drive to cut costs had hospitalised one customer and killed another. The restaurateur had a “reckless and cavalier attitude to risk” and “put profit before safety” at all his outlets, the jury was told.

As reported on the BBC news website, DI Shaun Page, North Yorkshire Police said: “Mr Zaman lied throughout his interviews with police.” Mr Wilson’s death was “totally avoidable” and Zaman’s “lack of remorse” had been striking. “And trying to distance himself from any involvement in his death. That had struck me through this investigation. His lack of compassion and understanding about that he’s actually done,” he said. “Zaman had a duty of care to serve safe food. He has breached that duty to a criminal standard”, he said
As reported in the ‘Telegraph’, police said the case was a precedent and sent a very clear message to the catering industry, warning them that they have a duty of care to their customers. Martin Goldman, chief crown prosecutor with CPS Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “If you ignore your responsibilities and regulations and put lives at real risk then we will not hesitate to prosecute…Take allergies seriously or face jail” he said.

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New criminal justice advisory council

When the lord chancellor announced on 28 January that he would not press ahead with dual contracting for criminal legal aid he said: “I intend to appoint an advisory council of solicitors and barristers to help me explore how we can reduce unnecessary bureaucratic costs, eliminate waste and end continuing abuses within the current legal aid system.”

The lord chancellor announced that he had “an ambitious programme of reform to our courts planned for the rest of this parliament. It is designed to make justice swifter and more certain. The reforms to our legal system, including taking more work out of courts, moving from a paper-based system to a digital platform, tackle unnecessary costs and reduce harmful delay, and these reforms will need the support of all in the legal profession.”

The new council is intended to be one of the mechanisms to assist him in understanding how these reforms could be effected.

The council’s full membership has not yet been announced, but its chair will be Gary Bell QC of No5 Chambers. Off to a flying start, Bell has invited anybody involved in the criminal justice system throughout England and Wales to contact him if they have matters they want the council to consider.

Writing for the Gazette online, Bell said: “The council will include a mix of barristers and solicitors as well as representatives from the Legal Aid Agency and the judiciary. Because it is very important that your views are reflected in as efficient and timely a way as possible it is essential that the membership of the panel reflects this need in its composition and location so as to be as efficient and focused as possible, but it is the views of individual professionals involved in the criminal justice system throughout the length and breadth of the jurisdiction that the panel would like to see.

“It is not a substitute for the Bar Council and the representative bodies who engage with the lord chancellor on a regular basis but an additional and important source of assistance.”

He goes on to write: “The council will not consist of members of representative bodies. It will be composed of individual barristers and solicitors in private practice who can express their own views without any external pressure brought to bear upon them. In that respect the council will be unique in that any findings and recommendations it makes will be those of the combined profession rather than representing the narrow interests of one branch or the other.”

He sees that the job of the council is to “consider all matters affecting efficiency, delay and waste within the system and make recommendations to the lord chancellor as to how best they can be eliminated. It will draw to the lord chancellor’s attention what it considers to be errors or abuses emanating from the system itself and any it encounters coming from the professions. In other words, it will be open and fair to all sides but also blunt and realistic.”

His article concludes: “The panel is not concerned with personalising criticisms, wherever they could legitimately be made in any part of the criminal justice system, but in addressing issues: using the people who really know – and that is you.”

Law Society president Jonathan Smithers said: “We would encourage our members to engage with this advisory council, as it is a good way to ensure that our concerns about inefficiencies in the criminal justice system are made known at the highest levels of government.”

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