Obiter was delighted to see that the MoJ’s new ‘single departmental plan’ includes a ringing commitment to transparency. It promises: ‘We will open up as much data as possible to enable researchers, academics, charities, the media and the wider public to understand what is happening in the criminal justice system and we will welcome media scrutiny of the progress we make.’
Come to think of it, the promise isn’t new. The last government even set up a Crime and Justice Sector Transparency Panel to badger the ministry to open up access to data. The panel was on the verge of its first victory last spring, over court listings data, when the civil service played its trump card: election purdah.
The panel has not convened since. ‘It seems to have died of neglect,’ chairman Professor Kieron O’Hara of Southampton University tells Obiter. ‘Though as next of kin it would have been nice to have been informed.’