Duncan Lewis

Legal Aid

Lawyers London

Government and Judiciary on collusion course on victims of crimes support proposals

Date: (28 August 2012)    |    

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In a surprising attack judges, with the support of the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Judge, and led by Lord Justice Goldring, the senior presiding judge for England and Wales, the judiciary has warned that some of the measures, which even the Ministry of Justice was circumspect about, were potentially disastrous.
The Government was planning to put police and crime commissioners in charge of victims support services which the judges said were potentially disastrous.
A consultation on the overhauling of the justice system was underway and responding to it the judges have raised grave concerns about allowing locally elected commissioners to select what support services should be offered to crime victims.
The judges wrote that they believed the suggestion was misconceived and could risk putting current good practice in serious jeopardy.
Their criticism was likely to add to the unease about the government's decision to put commissioners in charge of police forces, which has led to claims it will politicise the thin blue line.

They also place fresh pressure on the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, who was rumoured to be susceptible to any cabinet reshuffle. In January, Clarke had announced a shake-up of services for victims and witnesses of crime, claiming the current system had fell short.
But Mr Justice Calvert-Smith, the next head of the parole board, said on behalf of the judiciary that the proposal that the service provided to victims and witnesses were to be left to individual police and crime commissioners elected on political platforms was potentially disastrous.
Legal experts believe that the judges fear commissioners could "play to the gallery" and favour certain victim support services or be vulnerable to claims from private contractors.