June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice
The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have written to criminal justice staff and other public sector workers asking for their ideas on how the Government can cut costs.
As part of the Spending Review set out in this week’s Budget, the Government is launching a ‘Spending Challenge’ aimed at engaging the country in thinking about public services and how they are provided.
The first phase of the Challenge aims to harness the experience and insight of those at the front line, including court staff, prison and probation officers and civil servants, who will be asked to look at three areas:
- Government-funded activities that they believe are non-essential and should not continue.
- How the Government can better target activities or provide them more effectively.
- Activities that can be provided completely differently to save money, including by providers other than Government.
Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, said:
'The challenge for us is to reform and improve the way we do things, so that we can continue to maintain and increase the quality of service without spending so much money. That's a very tall order.
'It has implications for every part of the service, prisons, legal aid, criminal justice, courts administration and is quite a challenge. So I would urge everybody who has a good idea about how we can achieve more for less to get involved with the Spending Challenge.'
A website has been set up to let the country’s six million public sector workers submit their answers to the question, 'How do we rethink services to deliver more for less?'
Earlier, the policing and criminal justice minister has laid out government plans for creating a system shaped by the principles of freedom, fairness and responsibility. An 'ambitious' programme of reform was promised by Nick Herbert as he set out the new government’s approach to law and order.
Addressing the Policy Exchange on 23 June 2010, the policing and criminal justice minister said that the principles of freedom, fairness and responsibility which underpin the coalition government’s programme will guide the new approach. Mr Herbert said: 'Individual and social responsibility is the most important principle that we will apply'. He said that the government will insist that offenders pay back to society and victims by working in the community and earning their release from prison.
This should be matched by a 'resurgence in community activism … encouraging communities to share responsibility for making their neighbourhoods safer'. He pointed out that there had been a decline in participation over the years – in the 1950s, for example, there were nearly five times the number of special constables as today.
He promised an 'evidence-led approach' to change in criminal justice policy, saying that a review of the toolkit for antisocial behaviour 'will ensure that agencies have effective measures to tackle it'.
However, he warned that reform must 'be married with the reality of the fiscal position'. The criminal justice system, he said, will play its part in reducing spending by £17 billion as laid out in this week’s budget. Reforms in legal aid, the court service estate and greater efficiencies made by police forces will help contribute.