Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Plunkitt's purge

For those of you who are a tad underwhelmed by the news of the Blair-Plunkitt's new five year plan for abolishing crime, confirmation of your darkest fears can be found in The Times letters column (where else), where a Mr Liam Ferris writes about the "Prospects for David Blunkett's five-year purge on crime".

I can add nothing to it:

I listened with more than a little scepticism to David Blunkett’s five-year anti-crime plan (report and leading article, July 20). The problem is that the system that will be required to facilitate his plan is getting progressively weaker. The criminal justice system is highly labour-intensive, yet the professionals who provide the labour are dispirited and disillusioned.

The police officers required to apprehend suspects are overwhelmed by paperwork, underpaid, and cannot deal with current levels of crime. 

The Crown Prosecution Service is operating at crisis point in many areas, with the staff often working under unacceptable levels of stress due to undermanning, excessive administration and a lack of good communication with the police.

The magistrates’ court staff, who oversee prosecutions, work under pressure to deliver “targets” that bear no relationship to the quality of the justice being handed out.

The probation service seems to be staffed by professionals who entered the service to facilitate proper change in those under their care, and yet tell me that increasingly the only issues that seem to matter are budget, throughput, etc. The number of people in our prisons, per head of population, is among the highest in the world and yet those coming out are clearly reoffending.

Lawyers are being methodically undermined by the Government through restrictions on the way in which criminal defence firms can be run and through diminishing funds for defence. It is difficult to imagine that any young lawyer would want to enter this underfunded and precariously structured profession.

I have worked for 14 years within the Magistrates’ Court Service and as a criminal defence lawyer. Over the last decade the morale of those who will be charged with carrying out Mr Blunkett’s work has steadily lowered. I fear that five years from now the “plan” will be shown to have succeeded only through the theatrical presentation of figures that have no relationship to reality.

Yours faithfully,
10 Woodlands Road,
Liverpool L17 0AW.


Post a Comment

<< Home