Government’s ‘radical’ prison reform programme is ‘fairly minimal’, say MPs

This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap.   An influential group of MPs has called the government’s prison reform programme a ‘fairly minimal and eclectic set of measures’. The government last week dropped the Prisons and Courts Bill, which contained proposals for a radical overhaul of prisons as well as plans for online courts, to make way for the snap election. The proposed legislation was scheduled to be debated in its committee stage when Theresa May made her surprise announcement. ‘We hope that the next Government, of whatever complexion, will attach a high priority to prison reform,’ said Bob Neill, the Conservative chair of the committee. ‘In the expectation that legislation on prisons will be brought forward early in the next Parliament, we think it is right for us to express our views in this Report on the provisions of this Bill.’ Read here for the latest Ministry of …

Will open justice in employment tribunals do workers any favours?

This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap.   Last month, with little more than a whisper, employment tribunal judgments went online. The new database, which has since archived over 1,600 judgments, is one of the more recent moves towards open justice in the British justice system. Registers of tribunal judgments have been publicly available for many years, but in an offline form. ‘Judgments have always been publicly available but far harder to search for and locate,’ says Kiran Daurka, an employment and discrimination partner at Leigh Day. Searchable and easily accessible, the online database now allows browsers to target specific words, phrases or names more readily. Whilst this goes some way towards demystifying the workings of the tribunal system, employment law expert Michael Rubenstein has concerns. ‘I think it is regrettable that this database allows for searching by name of claimant,’ he says. ‘I fail to see who that …

Justice for the Innocent

This piece was originally published as a blog post by René Cassin.   Who is at the centre of Britain’s Modern Slavery Act: slaves or their captors? When only 4.9 per cent of the compensation awarded in such cases is passed onto victims, as The Times claimed yesterday, we can’t help but wonder. This is what happens when priorities are skewed towards criminal justice and away from community care. Legislation that has upgraded modern slavery into a serious crime has had the added effect of encouraging prosecutions at the expense of caring for victims – in this case, quite literally. Crackdowns on gangs and traffickers provide the instant gratification that long-term rehabilitation of victims does not. We’ve seen it all before, only in a different context: the war on drugs, where the capture of cartel kingpins is taken as an unequivocal sign of success. We should be concerned, because how we start …