Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Completely Predictable Mess

This blog wrote some years ago about the mismanagement of IPP (Indeterminate for Public Protection) sentences. After five years and more in which everyone in the system could forsee exactly what would happen, the issue has resurfaced (via a European judgment) and bitten the Government on the backside.
This is a classic example of political cowardice that no party can be proud of. Put simply, we introduced a system of indefinite custody for dangerous offenders, fundamental to which was putting prisoners through courses to address their offending, and assessing when they could safely be released. So far, so praiseworthy, but governments closed their eyes to the fact that only a minority of prisons were resourced to provide those courses. Meanwhile many men simply rotted in prison, with no hope of release because no course was available. Now, faced with indifference in the UK, some have taken their cases to Europe and won.
We can expect the Sun and the rest to spin this as an anti-Europe, pampering-the-lags story, but it is nothing of the sort. The ministers and civil servants who left these men's cases mouldering in the too-difficult file are going to cost us millions.

14 comments:

  1. Introducing the IPP garners valuable positive endorsement for the government of the day from the red tops. Funding it adequately, doesn't.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The most annoying (although perhaps not surprising) thing is, Grayling has spun it as a "WICKED EUROPE MAKING US RELEASE CRIMINALS" story, when he could have completely legitimately spun it as a "Labour were a hopeless bunch of incompetents" story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cameron feels sick at the thought of convicts voting,
      May is hurt by sex offenders wanting to be able to get off life time registration,

      now Grayling doesn't think the Strassburg Court should concern itself with this sort of thing.

      Will politicians ever think BEFORE speaking?

      Delete
  3. All you say is correct. The government was never going to provide the resources needed to make this form of sentence work. After all, it costs money. Here is the irony of course - it may now end up costing money by way of "just satisfaction" (as the European Court calls it).

    We saw the same thing with Clarke's ideas to avoid short term imprisonment. Send them on rehabilitative courses but, by the way, there's no money or manpower to make those courses fully effective.

    The Ministers who left the IPP cases mouldering have now "moved on." That's the art in politics - get moved before the chickens come home to roost. I don't suppose they will lose too much sleep over some more waste of taxpayer's cash.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spare a thought for the real lifers, who even four or five years ago kept being pushed to the back of the queue for rehabilitative courses so the IPP prisoners had a chance to go on them before their tariffs were due.
      The only real advantage of the IPP system is that the prisoner remains on licence for the rest of his/her life and thus subject to recall at any sign of reoffending — with none of the ‘bail awaiting trial’ options.

      Delete
  4. It is a tribute to the current govt that they knocked IPP on the head. It was always a travesty of justice. Now perhaps they can get around to restoring our Right to Silence, and our protection from Double Jeopardy and Executive Detention.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pig Squadron to 'Standby'

      Mog

      Delete
  5. Thank goodness for the ECtHR. What is most dispiriting is that all this has been well known for some considerable time (just like prisoner voting), but no-one has had the nous, let alone the political courage to do anything about it. It is perverse to prefer to wait until we can no longer wriggle out of our shortcomings just so as to be able to "blame it on Europe."

    ReplyDelete
  6. IPP was entirely a New Labour idea- it arose as a last minute amendment to the 2003 CJA and then when it was realised what a debacle it had produced it was amended in 2008 but the basic premise was left in place. From the start K. Clarke (whatever his faults) made clear that he wanted to repeal IPP. He achieved this through LASPO earlier this year. Give credit where its due.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I II am more than happy to give due credit to Ken Clarke for pulling the plug on IPPs. But he, we and the whole CJS (including those prisoners parked in limbo) knew full well that this train was heading for the ECtHR buffers (no silly jokes now about the judges!), but did SFA to avert the mess, let alone mitigate it and demonstrate that the government was addressing the issues rightly raised by Bystander and others in tempore non suspecto. It is this "rabbit in the headlight" mentality that is most damaging to the reputation of the British criminal justice system, a wilful and persistent neglect of ministerial duty, with a potentially large cost to the public exchequer. If even Ken, a noted pragmatist, was unable to persuade his Cabinet colleagues to grasp this nettle and deal with it in a concerted and joined-up manner, there seems little hope that Mr Grayling will be able to do better. In fact, given his public pontification on the ECHR and its workings, he may even see this as an opportunity to curry favour with the Tory right at the expense of both due process and simple justice.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Australian states have done away with double jeopardy. The aim was to ensure that the not guilty, are eventually found guilty. Mob happy.

    Australian Mob very unhappy about Mr Patel, incompetent immigrant surgeon with appalling record, protected by colleagues and bureaucrats. Got him first time, after extraditions hearings etc., but decision reversed because the prosecution had altered the aim of the conduct of the case confusing the man on the Bondi bus......

    So now he is to be retried, on a single manslaughter charge.... I bet if that fails, they will try another one after that, there were at least four involved in the first prosecution.

    ReplyDelete
  9. ANOTHER "Completely predictable mess"?
    **Flagship weekend court scheme abandoned over prison cost**
    (Headline - Daily Telegraph - 21-09-12)
    \\
    In an embarrassment for David Cameron, who was driving the initiative, one arm of the Ministry of Justice has told the other that the plan is too expensive and demanding to succeed.
    HM Courts & Tribunals Service has been encouraging magistrates’ courts to hold trials on Saturdays and Sundays in an attempt to make the system quicker and more efficient, following the example set after last summer’s riots.
    But officials in HM Prison Service say it costs too much money to open up jails and take new inmates at weekends, or to take them out of cells and drive them to court buildings for hearings.
    Defence solicitors were also refusing to take part, claiming there was no need for extra sittings, while prosecution and court staff were demanding overtime pay that would have outweighed any cost savings.
    The private companies that operate many jails, court buildings and prisoner transport would have also wanted more money for the additional services.
    \\
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9558939/Flagship-weekend-court-scheme-abandoned-over-prison-cost.html

    ReplyDelete
  10. If the weekend trials pilot is really gone, then a good thing. It addresses the wrong problem which is lack of court time meaning waiting time for trials has gone up dramatically 4-6 months in some cases.

    This is because the govt. has cut the funding for CPS so they can't provide prosecutors, so the courts run fewer courtrooms so fewer trials at any one time. In response of course HMCTS is sitting legal advisers as fewer are now needed to run the reduced number of courtrooms.

    It doesn't matter whether you run during the week, days,nights or weekends, without dealing with CPS funding and the consequent cuts that have now occurred (only round one of these, remember; more to follow) the system will remain paralysed.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sorry typo - not 'sitting legal advisers' but cutting them (or sacking if you prefer!)

    ReplyDelete

Posts are pre-moderated. Please bear with us if this takes a little time, but the number of bores and obsessives was getting out of hand, as were the fake comments advertising rubbish.