The Criminal Justice System - Public Accounts Committee Contents


The Criminal Justice System is complex and to operate effectively relies on numerous interdependencies between the different bodies involved. There are weaknesses in the System which have persisted for far too long and which cause delay and inefficiency, and serve to undermine public confidence. One example is the failure to ensure the right information is available in case files, where the quality has consistently worsened; another is that a quarter of trials are cancelled or delayed because of late decisions by one or more of the agencies involved. The Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Crown Prosecution Service have made some efforts to improve, but progress in addressing the key problems remains disappointingly slow. Crime has fallen but the departments gave little evidence linking this improvement to their actions, and while both crime and police officer numbers are down, prison numbers have remained static over the same period. The departments' efforts to improve efficiency are taking place against a background of reduced resources and staffing, and a prison population twice as high as 20 years ago. The Departments are struggling to: improve the smooth passage of criminal cases through the System; achieve greater collaboration and efficiency between criminal justice organisations at local level; and improve the use of new technology for sharing information.

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Prepared 20 May 2014