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Mr Khan’s big plan to combat re-offending; and should the vices of plebs be legalised?

Your Expert Witness blog logoLabour's Shadow Justice Sadiq Khan has promised what he calls a "war on re-offending", aiming to cut the number of people who return to prison again and again. "Rehabilitation", he said, "is not soft on crime – it's tough on re-offending."

Re-offending costs the country £11bn per year, he said. One way to cut re-offending has been the restorative justice programme being used in Northern Ireland and held out by Mr Khan as a beacon, together with a 'triage' system being trialled in London.

It was all in line with what the Labour Party has believed for decades, in particular when he pointed to the appalling number of people with mental health problems who are languishing in prison – exchanging the Victorian asylum for the Victorian prison, he called it – and the number of women there for a first offence.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 October 2012 15:04


The twitterings of trolls in the ether: can they cause as much distress as a hurled black pudding?

Expert Witness blog logoIt has been reported that the Director of Public Prosecutions is to "issue new social media rules" regarding what constitutes abuse, following a number of high-profile cases of nasty and offensive postings on Twitter and Facebook.

It is apparently known as "trolling", after the scary monsters. According to the Beeb: "Until recent years, the term 'trolls' referred to supernatural beings in Norse mythology." Has nobody there ever read The Lord of the Rings? A picture of one (from Troll-haugen, perhaps? Boom, boom!) was carried back in June, next to a report on proposed changes to the law.

Actually, I loved the depiction of trolls in the irreverent spoof by the Harvard Lampoon, called Bored of the Rings. In that, somewhat shorter, tome they are more like low-life gangsters and strip-club air-heads than the powerful, if sinister, stone monsters of Prof Tolkien's creation – which actually sounds more like the sad individuals who hide behind supposed anonymity to insult people in ways that would probably provoke a brawl if they were uttered aloud in a pub.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 September 2012 17:05


A little lurch to the right and Texas prepares for a UN invasion

Expert Witness blog logoThe appointment of right-winger Chris Grayling as the new Justice Minister has evoked the expected (and possibly elicited) mixture of euphoria and opprobrium.

The Law Society Gazette, in the persons of John Hyde and Michael Cross, described the appointment as a "right turn", adding: "His appointment is likely to be viewed as an attempt by Cameron to win favour with the right of his party."

Christian Guy, managing director of the Centre for Social Justice – a 'think tank' set up by Iain Duncan Smith – said in a statement: "The appointment of Chris Grayling is to be welcomed, and I am sure that he will continue the Government's drive to cut reoffending and slow the revolving door culture that has blighted this country's criminal justice system for years. We hope he will carry the reforming spirit he has shown on welfare reform to the Ministry of Justice."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 September 2012 16:32


Suffer the little children, and where exactly is Wales?

Expert Witness blog logoHaving grudgingly allowed a concession on the issue of legal aid for clinical negligence – but only insofar as it affects newborn babies or those injured in the womb – the Department of Justice has come up with another wheeze for clawing the money back again. It intends to apply what it calls a Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme to recoup up to 25% of damages from successful claimants, ie those whose lives have blighted from birth by medical negligence. This is, apparently, to fund other legal aid cases – assuming there are any.

The department's impact assessment claims that the deduction will be from damages "other than those for future care and loss". However, it also admits that the data it has "does not break down to allow future care and loss cost to be excluded". So they've had a guess at it!

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 October 2012 15:06


Do we need an expert on experts, and what price a law degree?

Your Expert Witness blog logoThere were a couple of announcements recently regarding the instruction of expert witnesses that, unsurprisingly, seem to have largely evaded the national press. On 31 July Mr Justice Ryder's report into reforming the family courts was published. Among the proposals are an overhaul of the way experts are used in the courts and when they should be instructed at all. The purpose is, apparently, to make the courts more efficient (for that, probably read 'cheap') and more accessible.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 October 2012 15:31