Monday, 29 September 2008

Eurojustice

The Scottish Govt has announced that Edinburgh is to host the annual Eurojustice conference this week.

It tells us:

"Legal professionals from around Europe will arrive in Edinburgh this week when the city and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ? Scotland's Prosecution Service - plays host for the first time to the annual Eurojustice conference.

The 11th annual conference will focus on two themes, prosecutors' roles in securing public confidence in the criminal justice system and in the development of Information Communications Technology."


The Lord Advocate, the Right Honourable Elish Angiolini, QC stated "I am particularly pleased that one of the main themes this year is securing public confidence in the criminal justice system. It is vital that the principle that justice is seen to be done is at the very heart of our work and that we, as prosecutors, recognise our role in ensuring that the public have the greatest measure of confidence in the criminal justice system"

I couldn't agree more with the Lord Advocate about justice being seen to be done.

Currently I'd suggest this is absolutely not the case.

I have posted on this subject several times, so there is no need to rehash old posts, but the community is getting really, really fed up of lenient sentences and the judicial system is seen as hopelessly out of touch with society and society's expectations.

Non custodial sentences have their place, I wouldn't argue with that, but criminals are laughing up their sleeves at the kind of sentences that are being handed down. Worse still, this frustrates the law abiding majority of people who just want to get on with their lives without being victim to the kind of 'people' who spend their day vandalising things, stealing possessions from people who have worked hard to buy them and assaulting ordinary folk going about their business.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill recently trumpeted about the three new prisons that are in the pipeline. Tough talk indeed. But bear in mind that two of these prisons are to replace two that have already been demolished and the third one is a legacy of the previous administration.

I actually don't understand how this culture of hand wringing, furrowed browed concern at the needs of a criminal element who are utterly indifferent to others continues to survive in the face of a society that is struggling to cope with their activities.

Effectively, the message we get from the Scottish Govt is that 'prison doesn't work'. But if rehabilitation does work, then in my view it can be done in prison, and communities can be protected from a criminals antics at the same time.

I would very much hope that it is not the case that there are one or two civil servants with rather narrow views influencing Scottish Government thinking on Justice, perhaps a "tail wagging the dog" scenario. Perhaps this might be something Mr MacAskill and his colleagues should look into?

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