Doing Research on Crime and Justice

Lord Auld wants an efficient structure with clear lines of communication and to identify accountability. This will allow more integration and a new electronic case management system. The current system relies on three boards, two were mentioned above and the third is the technology department. At present there is no overall direction for the criminal justice system, however what Auld proposes has not taken consideration of the availability of funds needed to undertake such a movement. Justice's response "Auld failed to set overall objectives for reform of the system and to supply a framework for reform".

The response of the Bar Council and LAG believe that the creation of the new boards would allow faster implementation of electronic case management, which would enable one case to be viewed by various departments. The Magistrates Courts' Committee, the Justices' clerk's society and the Association of Chief Police Officers, reject the ideas of making the system more streamlined. The MCC response to Auld's report. "…. Will remove local decision – making and accountability. It is alarming what he has proposed. Legal Action Group says that for implementation happening at breakneck speed will do more bad than it will good.

They believe the government should aid in preparing to codify the criminal law. The Bar Council gives support for creating the criminal code and an on – line sentencing information service. They want the system to work better for society. UNIFIED CRIMINAL COURT The main points: 1. To replace Crown and Magistrates courts 2. To introduce an intermediate tier 3. Either – way cases looked at from the defendant's worst point of view and sent to correct jurisdiction. 4. To replace the Magistrates' committees and the Court Service even if unification not done.

The idea of a unified criminal court will better enable the courts to process cases in a more systematic and efficient way. Auld says in defence of a unified court. "Although different cases may call for different tribunals, practices and procedures, each should be capable of providing a fair hearing and a just outcome". The aim of Auld's review was to consider practices and procedures in the criminal courts with a view to ensuring fairness and efficiency, having regard to the interests of all parties, thereby promoting public confidence. Surely justice and fairness are paramount.

With a unified court, in either – way cases, the accused should have no absolute right to be tried in the higher level of the court, but that in all cases the court shall decide in what court the case would be tried basing that decision primarily on the severity of likely sentence if the defendant is convicted. In particular cases it would be possible to allocate to a higher court, or to have a high court judge sit in a lower court, if it was felt appropriate. The system will ensure that once a case starts on one level it will be judged at that level. The appropriate route for an appeal is by going up one level.

Legal Action Group's response. "…. The Government is moving too fast in implementing piecemeal initiatives, the process needs to be broken down". Justice's response. "There is no conceptual framework in the Criminal Justice System, therefore a hard task to specify what needs to be done to achieve that".. On introducing a middle – tier. The Law Society's response. "…. The costs of running a middle – tier system will greatly outweigh the benefits". President says "The Government have rushed into passing legislation for the English legal system to make it more coherent".

The president would like to be involved in what the Government plan to propose in the White Paper. The requirement of a third tier is due to some cases requiring specialist knowledge. Due to costs of trial, being dependant on how long they last and in what court, I believe this will make the courts more efficient, but there is no valid argument in favour of helping restorative justice. The latest development means that the lower courts will be handling some of the administration of the Crown court's.. The White Paper In 2002 the Government issued its guidelines for implanting into the current criminal justice system.

It's name implies that more is being done in order for the people to be confident in their justice system. The points I have mentioned from Auld's report are: A unified criminal court and, A new Criminal Justice Board and, Jury rethinking. In response to Auld's review the Government has given a number of proposals to be taken up by the relevant agencies. According to the publication there is no mention of a unified court, however the Magistrates will have their sentencing power increased to 12 months and in some cases 18 months.

The Government have backed away from legislation which would allow the judge to question the verdict. This will allow for greater transparency in the way a case is handled. There will be perfect information available, which will be the responsibility of the courts and not the police. There will be a new body to deal and help effectuate a codified criminal law, as well as the change of certain classes of offences to be dealt with in an efficient way, i. e. telling the defendant the charges at the police station, etc.

There is no mention of a new body to take control of 'over – all direction', of the English legal system. The Law Commission and The Bar Council and The Royal Commission on Crime and Justice are required by the Government in relation to the constitution. The jury is not able to be changed in many ways, due to its constitutional nature. It will be possible for juveniles to be tried by either a High Curt judge or normal and two lay magistrates in grave offences, as before they were tried before a jury. I believe they require a more social aspect when dealing with young adults.

Conclusion The idea the government is trying to get, is to commission someone that will do a lot of research into the current practices, in this case, the workings of the entry – level courts, the way in which they interact with the rest of the functions of the state, then try to issue the necessary guidelines to the departments in order for it to work. It is important for the solicitors, police, probation and the staff who form part of that system to be able to ensure they are able to work within it and provide a service that is regarded to be second to none.

The Government relies on experts to create a sound environment for its people, who are the research candidates. Auld's report is not a coherent framework for change, piece – meal initiatives provide a way of change over time through small changes in the framework, this is a slower progress but, it can be sustained, most of what Auld researched did not form part of the White Paper. His report does not justify why the courts should take such a direction, the way funds will be raised and allocated in taking such measures.

With any report there are bound to be people who oppose it. Especially those that are affected most by it. Various bodies of the government go due to reform and it is not safe to streamline when the ideas you wish to occur, like seeing all the defendants, one by one, having a perfect jury, all the necessary evidence and witnesses and keeping within time limits, the costs associated with seeing each person and being able to ensure that each person is getting the best treatment. There is scope for improvement but it cannot be free.

The system has contained in it the dictum of the 'Separation of Powers', this enables the three functions of the state to work alongside each other, where neither wields too much power. The Home Office, (executive function), has continually interfered with the judiciary, either due to conflicting policy, (For example Myra Hindley, and the Guildford 4), due to their release dates, which were quashed. Only by the 'executive', interfering with the 'legislature' system. Since 1981 there has been performance measures issued to magistrate courts, by the Home Office71, MIS related to key indicators to be achieved by the Magistrates.This was to make the court a business as such.


1. Text and Materials on the Criminal Justice Process, 1995, Nicola Padfield, Butterworths. 2. The New Politics of Criminal Justice. 1998, Ann James, Longman 3. Doing Research on Crime and Justice. 2000, Roy D. King, Oxford Uni. Press. 4. Criminal Justice. 1978, Martin Robertson. 5. Cases and Materials on the English Legal System. 7th edn, Michael Zander, Butterworths. 6. Law and Modern Society. P. S. Atiyah. References 1. CJS White Paper 'Justice for All'. 2002 2. Lord Justice Auld 'Review into the Criminal courts'