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Criminal Justice

Volume 696: debated on Thursday 15 November 2007

The Government have today laid before Parliament the document Working Together to Cut Crime and Deliver Justice: A Strategic Plan for Criminal Justice 2008-11 (Cm 7247). This plan sets out how we will deliver the new justice for all public service agreement targets for the criminal justice system to improve efficiency and effectiveness in bringing offences to justice, especially serious offences; increase public confidence and victim and witness satisfaction; increase recovery of criminal assets; and improve enforcement of the orders of the court.

The strategic plan sets out a new approach to the way in which the criminal justice agencies—police, prosecution, courts, probation, prison and youth justice services—will work together to improve efficiency and effectiveness in bringing offences to justice by giving local criminal justice boards greater flexibility to tailor their work to local priorities. The plan also sets out how the criminal justice system will support the Government’s wider drive to make communities safer through reducing crime and reoffending, as detailed in the crime strategy, Cutting Crime: A New Partnership 2008-11, published on 19 July.

By working together more closely, staff in the criminal justice system have already successfully brought more offences to justice, improved services to victims and witnesses and built strong partnerships at national and local level to drive up performance, supported by modern technology.

This plan builds on that success and sets out our commitment to a criminal justice system that:

is effective in bringing offences to justice;

engages the public and inspires confidence;

puts the needs of victims at its heart; and

has simple and efficient processes.

While we have made great strides in tackling volume crime, there is more to do to tackle some of the most serious crimes, such as sexual and violent crime, and to support the victims of these crimes. At the other end of the scale, we need to intervene earlier and more effectively with young people at risk, both victims and offenders. We need to continue our drive to tackle some of the most intractable problems—mental health, substance misuse and social exclusion—which underlie many crimes.

We recognise that it is crucial to engage the public more closely in the work of the criminal justice system. We need to bring the criminal justice system closer to the people whom it serves so that we inform them, consult them and tell them how we are responding to their views. Local criminal justice boards, working with local communities and crime and disorder reduction partnerships, will have a key role in achieving this. More needs to be done to ensure that the criminal justice system provides a service that is fair and effective for all sections of the community.

We will go further in improving the efficiency of every part of the system, making better use of the technology that is now in place, and give local areas the freedom to innovate and drive locally tailored programmes of change.

The programmes of work that we set out in this plan will support this local approach. We are designing a blueprint for local leadership to enable local criminal justice boards to implement a co-ordinated programme of reform that is shared by all the criminal justice agencies and to engage effectively with local communities and local partners to tackle local priorities and reduce crime and reoffending.

We have set ourselves a challenging target on asset recovery, sending a strong signal that crime does not pay. Offenders will be held to account for their actions and offered more opportunities to make amends to their victims and society. We will ensure that standards of service to victims and witnesses are embedded throughout the criminal justice system and that we respond to the needs of all victims, particularly the victims of the most serious crimes.

We will continue to drive improvements across the whole criminal justice process, but we will do so in a different way. At a national level, we will provide the framework and support, but improvements will be driven at local level, informed by local priorities. We will measure and respond to the views of local people about their local services. We will work in partnership with local community and voluntary organisations. We will build on what works to make a sustainable difference to reducing crime and reoffending in communities.