A paper, Problem-solving courts: a delivery plan, estimates that trialling three existing and seven new courts in the criminal system between 2017 and 2020 would cost £2.6m. The Ministry of Justice’s current ambition, set out last month in its £1bn transforming justice programme is only to ‘continue to explore’ the use of problem-solving courts.
As people who believe that our justice system should tackle the root causes of crime and social harm, we urge the new lord chancellor to pilot and support new specialist “problem-solving” courts. Her predecessor pledged to trial a range of such courts, including specialist courts for female offenders, but the momentum appears to have slowed.
Specialist ‘problem-solving’ courts could be piloted in England and Wales, the government has confirmed – prompting scepticism among solicitors who say past experience suggests the project is doomed to fail.
Solicitors and magistrates have praised a London advice service which helped more than 600 people in its first year. Community Advice was set up at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court in January last year by the North London Local Justice Area, with support from the Centre for Justice Innovation.
The Centre for Justice Innovation says the London Family Drug and Alcohol Court cost £560,000 across its 2014-15 caseload, a sum that includes expenses such as specialist staff salaries and office costs. But it generated estimated gross savings to public sector bodies of £1.29m arising from that caseload over five years.