A guide recently published by the Centre for Justice Innovation argues that diverting young offenders away from the court system not only reduces immediate costs of prosecution but, by placing those who need assistance into early contact with health, mental health and social services, it produces better outcomes than formal processing. It quotes an Audit Commission 2009 estimate that more than £100m is saved in lifetime costs if one in 10 young offenders can be diverted into effective support.
How can innovation flourish in a sector where risk management is paramount? Deputy director of the Centre for Justice Innovation Anton Shelupanov is determined to find the answer and shake things up in the criminal justice sector.
Judges and lawyers in Britain who had practiced in the criminal courts for many years were somewhat affronted when, on the introduction of the Human Rights Act in October 2000, they were told that Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights now obliged them to provide a fair trial: most judicial officers considered that they had been doing this for many years.
For the past seven years, the London Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) has been pioneering a new approach to child protection cases in which one or both parents have drug or alcohol problems. It has been so successful that others have been established in Milton Keynes, Gloucester and Buckinghamshire; in February the government announced £2.5m extra funding to extend the courts across England and Wales.
Victims’ rights are ‘an access to justice issue’, and the next five years sees the ‘best ever chance in our legal history’, of a victims’ law being passed, according to Keir Starmer QC.Speaking at the ‘Better Courts’ conference, Starmer said during his time as DPP, he was often contacted by victims ‘in a distressed state’, because of their experiences in court.