Sir Brian Leveson, The President of the Queen’s Bench Division publishes his review into efficiency in criminal proceedings today (Friday) with a wide ranging set of recommendations. He was asked by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas to find ways to make criminal justice more efficient and streamlined.
Sir Brian involved in the review all concerned with the operation of the Criminal Justice System (CJS), including all ranks of the judiciary, the police, the CPS, the Law Society and the Bar, HMCTS, the Ministry of Justice, (including the Legal Aid Agency and NOMS) as well as academic lawyers involved in the area.
The recommendations do not require legislation.
The review has been conducted against the background of a decrease in public funding for the (CJS) and considers ways to streamline the disposal of criminal cases.
Sir Brian recommends:
- the greater use of video and other conferencing technology across the system (including courts and prisons) particularly featuring remote hearings in the Crown Court, which would lead to a better service for all those involved and reduce both delay and cost (para. 40-50);
- facilitating the use in court of evidence gathered by police on video cameras mounted on their bodies or helmets (para. 58) and a streamlined approach to other evidence which has been captured electronically, such as interviews of child witnesses (achieving best evidence) and interviews with defendants (para. 250);
- more flexible opening hours in magistrates’ courts to accommodate those who cannot attend hearings during normal office hours (para. 54);
- tighter case management by judges, including, in appropriate cases, the provision of timetables for evidence and speeches (para. 274, 281);
- that contracts awarded to those responsible for delivering prisoners to court should require greater efficiency so that prisoners appear on time and do not delay proceedings (para. 214).
- that there should be funding available to pay for the inevitable cost of changing from the current systems to the more efficient ones (para. 320).
Sir Brian also identifies some potential changes to the system that are outside the scope of the review as they would require legislative change (Chapter 10). These include changes such as when a jury trial is appropriate that have previously been proposed or discussed. on the basis that they may help to provide a more coherent system of criminal justice. He does not make any specific recommendations in these areas; these are for Parliament to decide.
Sir Brian Leveson said:
“The changes I have recommended are all designed to streamline the way the investigation and prosecution of crime is approached without ever losing sight of the interests of justice.
“Our conduct of criminal trials was designed in the 19th century with many changes and reforms bolted on, especially over the last 30 years. The result is that it has become inefficient, time consuming and, as a result, very expensive.
“It is clear that all aspects of the system are going to have to live with diminished resources for years to come. Quite apart from questions of necessary reform, therefore, it is vital that we find ways to make best use of those resources by greater efficiency.
“As a society, it remains essential that we retain high quality lawyers to carry out publicly funded work. A more efficient system overall will allow all those involved in criminal justice to use their time productively with fewer hours wasted dealing with bureaucracy and less time lost through unnecessary delay.”
Notes to Editors
1. Lord Justice Auld published a previous review into the criminal courts of England and Wales in 2001. It is available at bit.ly/149MdN7
2. For further media enquiries please call the Judicial Press Office on 0207 073 4852 or firstname.lastname@example.org