The appointment of yet another lord chancellor, the fifth since 2012, is indicative of the low regard in which the present administration holds the role of justice secretary.
Back in 2011/12 we warned the Ministry of Justice that the criminal justice system could not survive continued cuts, whether it be to police officers on the streets, legal aid and the probation service, or assaults upon the prison service and the mass slaughter of the court estate.
But no, they knew best. Rambling buffoon Grayling launched the initial attack, and criminal justice began to follow in the steps of a hard-pushed NHS, welfare department and education department (the list is not non-exhaustive). He then walked away leaving a trail of devastation. Matters have continued to deteriorate.
Walk into any police station, magistrates’ court, Crown court or probation office to witness rock-bottom staff morale – the stench of exhaustion and, in the case of court buildings, of damp and neglect.
The attorney general should not be restricting his investigations to serious rape and sex cases, he should be referring the whole decimation of criminal justice from top to bottom to the justice secretary. He should not be applying sticking plaster to what is a gaping wound.
Cuts to prosecuting authorities have led to low morale and overstretched working conditions, leading to these disclosure issues. Low morale at the police station is evident every time I attend.
Where once we had nearly two dozen courts in Lincolnshire delivering local summary justice, we now have two. A 78-mile round trip to your ‘local’ court.
Court buildings have been sold from the estate to generate income which appears not to have been ploughed back, as promised, into dated buildings simply not fit for purpose.
Until there is an acknowledgement by any government that the role of justice secretary is important, and not merely a title and promise of full pension, matters will deteriorate further.
The criminal justice system is collapsing around our ears together with the plaster and mortar of our aged buildings. Cuts to legal aid are nothing short of a fraud, [justified by] misquoted and inflated figures.
Defence firms have had to invest in IT hardware to accommodate rushed digitisation, and absorb all of the costs associated with paperless files while at the same time accepting cut after cut to remuneration rates.
For the first time the Law Society has finally stepped up to the table regarding the latter and issued a judicial review.
The lord chancellor should now also step up to the table and start protecting the whole criminal justice system, not just issues of disclosure in rape and sex cases.
He took an oath and should follow it word for word. As the first legally qualified lord chancellor [since 2012] he should know what makes the system work.
Stuart Wild, Save UK Justice