Letter to Editor: ‘Problems shared’

Letter to Editor: ‘Problems shared’

7 December 2015

Originally published in The Times

Michael Baker QC

Sir, Michael Gove’s support for problem-solving courts (report, Dec 5) is to be welcomed. However, the suggestion that previous attempts to establish such courts have failed because of reservations from the judiciary is not completely true.


An experimental problem-solving programme (the choices and consequences programme) has been running for some eight years in Hertfordshire, and a similar programme has been used in Bedfordshire for a shorter period. They have been consistently supported by the senior judiciary — not least by the current Lord Chief Justice — since their inception.


They provide a rehabilitative programme as an alternative to custody for very prolific acquisitive offenders who badly want to change their ways, and who are prepared to admit all their past offending — often measured in hundreds of burglaries.


The lessons learnt from these programmes by the judiciary, the police and the probation services could be of value to those seeking to set up the new problem-solving courts to help those dealing with addiction.


His Honour Michael Baker, QC

Resident judge, St Albans Crown Court 2000-2010