Lord Chancellor Welcomes PM’s Justice Vision

Lord Falconer has welcomed the Prime Minister’s vision for the criminal justice system saying: “We cannot stand still because criminals don’t stand still.” 

The Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor said the Security, Crime and Justice Review continued to build on recent government efforts to rebalance the justice system away from criminals and in favour of victims, witnesses and the law-abiding majority.

Lord Falconer said: “Our vision is a criminal justice system with the protection of the public and a reduction in re-offending at the heart of everything it does. We are making major changes to the way courts operate to make them more efficient and more responsive to the needs of their local community. We have set out a new relationship between the judiciary and the government and we are rebalancing the relationship between victims of crime and offenders.

“We are working to improve the connection between the citizen and the courts. But we cannot rest on our laurels. We cannot stand still because criminals don’t stand still. The Prime Minister has today set out an ambitious vision of the future. He has set the standards we all need to aspire to in the coming decade.”

Lord Falconer said many of the Prime Minister’s ideas built on successful changes already taking place, or being trialled currently. For example, the Government is already looking at greater use of technology and had modelled virtual courts as part of the London Virtual Courts Initiative.

We are pioneering community justice initiatives in North Liverpool, Salford, Bradford, Birmingham, Devon and Cornwall, Kingston upon Hull, Leicestershire, Merthyr Tydfil, Middlesbrough, Nottingham and three projects in London.

And we have set out how judges can assist in improving the efficient running of courts, for example encouraging an early guilty plea by defendants where appropriate.

We are already starting to see improvements:

  • we have more than halved the average time taken from charge to conclusion, down to 23 days;
  • there has been a 30 per cent increase in guilty pleas at first hearing. First hearings are now often final hearings;
  • Seventy per cent of contested cases are dealt with in just two hearings;
  • there has been a 70 per cent reduction in interim hearings

Lord Falconer said: “Our argument always has to be ‘we will do whatever is most effective’.”