The Law Society have warned the government that its plans to hold a commission into the criminal justice system must not delay long-overdue investment.
We all want swift, fair and effective justice, but it cannot be delivered on the cheap, said Law Society president Simon Davis.
A thorough review, although needed, must be backed up with a significant cash injection across the board – to police and prosecutors, but also to the courts and to the defence profession: an endangered species at risk of becoming extinct. This is the only way to bring back our justice system from the brink. A failure to do so, or to invest partially, risks more crime falling through the cracks of investigation and prosecution.
The Society's warning comes as the justice system is at breaking point: Since 2011/2012, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has lost a quarter of its budget; between 2015 and 2019 the number of investigative police officers has decreased by 34%, or almost 10,000 officers; the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has suffered cuts of around 35%; and in the last decade, almost half of civil and criminal courts in England and Wales have closed.
Among the 30 or so bills brought forward by Boris Johnson’s new government are measures which fell when the snap election was called in October, including a new Divorce and Domestic Abuse bill, and steps to limit claims against the Ministry of Defence. Davis added:
The British military is respected across the world for their high standards and values. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) owes our armed forces a duty of care. Legislation must maintain the MoD’s legal and public accountability. We will work with the government to ensure legal claims are conducted appropriately.