Prisons and Courts Bill

Written evidence submitted by Arthur Michael Robinson, Director and Solicitor, Emmersons Solicitors Limited (PCB 02)

As was pointed out in the second reading in the Commons by the MP for Bridgend, HMP Parc has undertaken great work with offenders. The success of the work undertaken there has been known for years. Why is it that best practice has not been shared (imposed) on the rest of the estate.

My concern is that giving Governors more power means less accountability for the relevant Minister. Perhaps the best way forward would be for each prison Governor to be a Board member of a Board chaired by the resident Minister so that good practice can be shared and poor practice identified and rectified.

Prison security: the technology already exists to stop mobile phones working and is used in some prisons. Perhaps it ought to be used in all prisons.

Court reform: what is Justice? What does it look like? How is it accessed by a citizen? Are the justice systems adequately resourced? Unless Justice is defined so that everyone knows what is expected the justice systems will remain in disarray no matter how much wi-fi or virtual technology is put in court buildings or other buildings. A proper analysis of how technology is used now would help. There are plenty of prions to which no legal visits can be conducted by videolink because there are not the facilities for everyone who would like to use videolink. This is because Probation are given priority. This means lawyers have to travel-which costs money and time-and isn’t, to use a buzz word of the recent past-"efficient".

There is no definition of "efficient" or "efficiency" so again there is no yardstick against which to gauge if a suggested reform will be efficient. We already have digital working. But disclosure is slow and/or late and/or incomplete far too often. This is because of a resource issue at CPS/Police.

I have no issue with online proceedings for minor matters, so long as it is understood that the person who commits such offences may end up treating them as completely unimportant. Why should someone who deliberately takes a ride on a train without paying the fare NOT be inconvenienced by having to attend at Court? Is there no shame in committing even minor offences?

Whiplash

The Association of British Insurers has mounted a huge propaganda campaign promising reduced insurance premiums IF changes to whiplash claims are made. However there is evidence that insurance premiums will rise in any event. It is my view that the ABI and the CEOs of the top insurance companies have too much influence.

Government need not got involved in everything. Insurance is a product. The market should determine insurance premium rates without interference from Government.

March 2017

 

Prepared 27th March 2017