Very few people cry over the plight of prisoners. The fact that there are prisoners in custody serving Indeterminate sentences for Public Protection (even though such sentences have been repealed for new offences) raises little concern. Such prison sentences cost a lot of money and fail to deliver the very basic requirements of the sentence which is that a prisoner has to show that the risk he/she poses to the public has reduced. This is shown by attending courses and demonstrating a new way of thinking. The courses can’t be run in sufficient numbers to ensure that prisoners serve a realistic sentence that equates to what they would now get or which is less than the statutory maximum for the offence if the prisoner had been sentenced for the offence in accordance with normal sentencing guidelines, as opposed to the IPP system. So prisoners languish in jail without their offending being addressed. It wastes time and money.
Today I read that when Police phone the CPS to get a charging decision they have to wait, on average, 37 minutes. That’s a lot of wasted time-and expense. If the money wasted on unproductive activity was spent on more staff then waiting times would reduce, thus saving time.
But the most shocking thing today was a report about assaults on prison staff, suicide in custody and how many prisoners are wasting time, on drugs, in prison. There’s been a lot of talk about making the Justice systems more efficient. Usually its people who really want to say “we are going to spend a lot less on Justice but we expect the same service, but even if the service is worse it doesn’t matter as we will be spending less on it”. The value of the service, the worth of the service is not considered. It is all to do with £££. Unfortunately this then causes increased costs elsewhere through absenteeism, sickness, claims arising out of injury or delayed release.
What’s also worrying is that the cuts to Justice has resulted in the wrong people being released from prison; ineffective trials; increased assaults on Prison Officers; acquittal when there should not be one; innocent people trying to represent themselves in Court; a lack of experience and timely consideration of evidence; the failure to process cases effectively; in short, money and time wasted and people expected to do a lot of work in too short a period of time.
The response to this from the Legal Aid Agency has not been to query the cuts or the determination by the Ministry of Justice to introduce a more “efficient” system
by cutting resources but to introduce a new clause for the 2017 Crime Contract by which the LAA can end a contract if the provider embarrasses the LAA and brings the LAA into disrepute. What a joke!? Instead of worrying about Justice and access to Justice and the administration of Justice the LAA is concerned about its own reputation. If the LAA was a human being, such thinking would make one conclude it was sociopathic.