Sir Brian Leveson has a chequered record when it comes to considered redesign of existing systems. And it is by no means certain that the recommendations of his ‘review of efficiency in criminal proceedings’ will be implemented.
But given the parlous state of the criminal law community, described in unflinching detail in this week’s feature, starting work on the better of his recommendations is urgent.
All organisations struggle with ‘change management’ (awful phrase), and as Leveson’s proposals cover both IT and entrenched procedure, implementation would be far from smooth.
But these areas must be addressed. They are perhaps the only remaining element of the criminal justice system with the resilience required to bear further upheaval. To date, criminal justice policy’s key instruments of ‘change’ have been cuts in public funding and a worsening of contract terms – both intended to cause structural adjustment in the defendant legal market. The result is a market close to breaking point.
Can increased use of Skype and video links save the system? Alone, of course not. But even these proposals at least show real initiative. The criminal law community only stands a chance of renewing itself if the justice system with which it interacts finds new ways to operate.