Status: Creaking and not really fulfilling the needs and wishes of the nation.
There is overwhelming public opinion that it is failing, outdated and needs fundamental reform. That prison is soft, sentences too short and the victims are treated worse than offenders. Growing disrespect for the law.
The scale of the major surgery needed is great and a measured approach is vital to ensure that the patient survives. It will not happen overnight but an urgent start is a priority.
The Criminal Justice System should give justice to the victim(s) it is not just for the criminal. The treatment of offenders is too often better than that of the victims
The legal aid bill has got out of hand. Defence solicitors reap greater rewards if they spin out cases. Too much time is wasted in court often with nothing happening.
We do not need more laws, what we desperately need is the existing laws to be fairly and robustly enforced.
Front Line Workers:
All public facing workers need and are entitled to greater protection be it bus driver, taxi driver, shop or business staff, security staff and many others. This is an area where new legislation might be required to make it an offence. Reduced public police presence makes this more pressing.
Remove the tariff deductions that allow for halving sentences.
Why should a sentenced prisoner taken away in cuffs, transported to a prison in a prison van, then arrive with their sentence halved? – Truly a magical vehicle! Yet offences such as non payment of council tax incurs a 0% reduction!
The sentence given in court should be the sentence served and if necessary, increased for adverse comments from the dock or bad behaviour once in prison.
Strange how when Borstal existed there was no wish to go back for most or a dread for the remaining few. Nowadays, a sentence to spend time in prison is viewed by many as a package holiday or respite care to be looked forward to fondly.
When the severity of the sentence makes such a drastic impact on as person’s life, this same person or perpetrator will think again on whether the real risk of getting caught is worthwhile taking.
Short sentences satisfy neither the public nor the victim and are not in the offenders best interest. Consider weekend jail sentences with a work programme where appropriate.
Prison sentences should be much longer but have an attached holistic treatment programme built in. This needs to be coupled with a theme for most offenders similar to motorists 3-6-9-12 points then banned .
For serial repeat offenders there as to be an escalating scale.
A prison sentence should always start with a period of basic privileges and thereafter behaviour should be the determinant of any increased privileges or sanctions.
Work or treatment programmes should be a dominant theme.
Parole should always be earned not given on a time served basis.
Should prisoners receive benefits whilst inside as is wanted by some this should be countered by charging for accommodation etc.
The right to vote should be suspended for serving offenders
More prisons need to be built of a type suitable for the offender and capable of offering both treatment and training programmes. This could mean camp type structures but they must all have a secure perimeter.
Remove foreign prisoners clogging up the prisons whether by deportation or funding their incarceration at a lower cost in foreign jails or other means. (see Foreign Aid)
Remove TV licence non-payment from the Magistrates courts, it clogs up the courts where the large fines issued are mostly not paid.
If necessary, use special court sessions alongside big events and outside of the normal court buildings including weekends and evenings.
A defence solicitors request for credit for an early guilty plea by his client should always be viewed in context of when it was made (time and date). pleading guilty just before they are in court because a witness has turned up slips by far too early yet still earns tariff reductions.
Court bail conditions are generally known to very few and breached with impunity, they should be widely known so that breaches can be reported. If the courts set bail conditions in the expectation they will not be breached they need to know if they are, otherwise what is the point. (I wish I had a £1 for every breach I have seen evidence for).
There needs to be a system in place so that if a person commits a crime, all the relevant people in the wider community can be informed so any evidence be it CCTV or statement regarding recent crimes by the same offender, can all be collated at one point so as the offender arrives in court so does all the evidence of his recent behaviour. The court then has a fuller and truer picture so that they can deliver a more appropriate sentence.
I have known of many, many instances of people in court with their solicitor claiming it is an isolated incident or they have not offended whilst on bail, for most of which there has been good uncollected evidence lying around.
White Collar crime:
The complex technical nature of these trials are beyond ordinary juries so there needs to be panels of suitably qualified people to address the problem. The system sets up trials to fail resulting in an annual bill of millions of pounds to the taxpayer and the offender(s) walking free from court.
The punishment if found guilty should always reflect the scale of the sums involved.