Thursday, 20 May 2010
Governmental News and Reviews but not all will be plain sailing
Kenneth Clarke] - has announced the responsibilities of the Ministerial Team. Significantly, responsibility for Youth Justice is now entirely with the Ministry of Justice instead of the previous division between MoJ and Education.
Some 27 Policy Reviews have been announced in the full version of the Coalition Agreement. The Civil Liberties proposals are in section 3 of the agreement; Policing is at paragraph 6 and Justice at paragraph 20. This is a very full programme over the entire range of government activity. The reviews will look at important topics such as the Human Rights Act 1998; the Extradition Act 2003; House of Lords Reform and Sentencing Policy. The Extradition Act 2003 has been particularly criticised because of the arrangements between the U.K. and the U.S.A. The Gary MacKinnon case exemplifies these arrangements.
Also, there will be a review of legal aid aimed at making it work more efficiently. Proceeds from the "Victim Surcharge" will be used to deliver up to 15 new rape crisis centres as well as putting those which exist on a more stable basis. A further and unexpected announcement is that anonymity will be extended to defendants in rape cases. This is likely to be extremely controversial - see The Guardian 20th May. Under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1976 s.6, defendants had anonymity but this was removed by the Criminal Justice Act 1988 s158(5).
The Electoral Commission has been looking at the problems with voting at the General Election on 6th May. See their announcement and report. The HUMAN RIGHTS BLOG has a good article on this. LIBERTY has responded to the Commission's report.