Headlines: July 18th, 2002

A radical and wide-ranging programme of reform for the criminal justice system has been published by the government.The White Paper, ‘Justice for All’, promises to modernise the system from end to end – from detection through to rehabilitation of offenders.

It promises to be much more victim and witness-focussed, though some campaigners worry about the possible impact on justice for those accused. The Government insists that the defendant’s rights to a fair trial will not be affected or the presumption of innocence compromised.

Key points are:

–    bail tightened to limit the chance of further offending

–    defendants not be allowed to ‘play the system’ by building in delay

–    the right of the community should be protected as well as those accused, by seeing offenders caught and convicted

–    tough and effective community sentencing.

There is as much about efficiency and reduced delay in the paper as there is about justice. In defence of what some will see as a curbing of a defendant’s rights, the Government says that for the criminal justice system to be creditable it must be seen to operate effectively.

The White Paper “Justice for All” can be found at www.cjsonline.gov.uk