Odd Priorities from the government

17 Jan 2024
Scales of justice

The priorities of this Tory government continues to baffle us.

At a time when the cost of living crisis and poor performance of public services in particular the NHS dominate the concerns of voters we have to watch the Conservatives tear themselves apart over a policy about sending a few hundred people to Rwanda. More resignations and talk of rebellions fill the news. Talk of ignoring international law pits one group of Tories against another

To try to buy off one Tory faction or another ( we frankly cant remember if it was the Peoples Front of Judea or the Judean Peoples Front with apologies to the "Life of Brian") No 10 announced a plan to move 150 judges to deal with migrant appeals finding space in the courts to do so

This prompted Dame Sue Carr the first lady chief justice to make it clear that decisions on how judges were deployed were “exclusively a matter for the judiciary”

The separation of judicial powers from political interference is one of the pillars of our democracy which seems to have been forgotten when trying to buy off the rebels in their own party

What shocked us more by this announcement was how at a stroke of the pen a decade of underfunding and austerity forced upon the justice system by the Tories seems to have been swept aside. For years the justice budget has seen real cuts in expenditure

In November 2023, there were 370,090 outstanding cases in the magistrates’ court, up from 340,102 in November 2022.

In the Crown Court, the backlog stood at 65,077 in November 2023, compared to 61,526 in November 2022. This has increased waiting times, with 28% of cases in the Crown Court backlog waiting for over a year, and 10% waiting over two years.

The typical delay between an offence of rape and the completion of the resulting criminal case rose to 1,000 days in 2021 for the first time, figures have revealed.

The Law Society recently commented “Decades of cuts and underinvestment in our criminal justice system has led us to this crisis where there aren’t enough judges, lawyers and court staff to deal with the huge volume of work. Only sustained investment across the system can replenish it and ensure timely access to justice for victims and defendants.”

For a decade it has been OK for victims to have to endure growing delays before they have their day in court with hopefully some closure on the impacts of the crimes they experienced. But as soon as a few right-wing Tories kick up a fuss resources can apparently be magicked up