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Be careful what you wish for

Following Ken 'The Beast' Clarke's announcement of his policy of reducing sentences for sex offenders by 50% in return for a guilty plea a lot of solicitors and barristers felt that this was a bad idea and that it should be scrapped.  Low and behold it now has been scrapped.  But where does that leave the lawyers?

There is talk that scrapping this plan will cost in the region of £130 million.  This means that the Ministry of Justice will have to find another way to save that money or they could ask the Treasury for a hand out.  If the Treasury gives them the money then all the other departments will coming running with their begging caps held out.  So, a Treasury bail out looks pretty unlikely to happen; the MOJ isn't a bank after all.

What then are the MOJ to do?

They could scrap the Victims' Commissioner but I doubt that would save much money and would definitely make bad headlines in the Sun, although I know a few bloggers who would be pleased to see the back of Louise Casey.  They could abandon the Commission on a Bill of Rights, which to be honest just sounds like a complete waste of time and money - imagine the Daily Mail's reaction to another Human Rights Act style piece of legislation.  That might actually save some cash if you look at the make up of the committee.

The problem for the MOJ is that they do a lot of things that either are important or sound important and cutting them will either actually be bad or, more importantly from their point of view, will sound bad.

Of course, they also control Legal Aid.  Now while I think legal aid is important I know a lot of people disagree and are happy for defendants to be unrepresented or inadequately represented at trial (well until it's them or their child in the dock that is).  Further cuts to the legal aid budget would probably help the MOJ anyway since less money means lawyers have to try to handle more cases and thus pay less attention to what they are doing and so the conviction rate goes up.  Frankly, it's a win win for the MOJ, they cut funding to people that hardly anybody cares about anyway and they can shout from the roof tops about how they are bringing more offenders to justice!  Plus, as we saw with the new assault sentencing guidelines less people will be sent to prison in any event and when they do go they'll get shorter sentences so there will be very little increase in costs for the prisons.

So, while lawyers may have got what they wished for they may now have to pay the consequences.

I know what you're thinking by the way, "typical lawyer always looking out for himself".  What else would you expect?

Edit - barely minutes after posting this, I discovered that I'm not the only one thinking it

Edit 2 - clear Mr Clarke is a fan of this blog and doesn't want me upset as he has just ruled out any further cut to legal aid.


  1. Oh FFS, the proposed reduction in sentence for an early guilty plea was for all crimes not just sex offences. The whole rape thing started out of one interview and a number of special interest groups jumping on the bandwagon aided by a lazy and complicit media.

    Joseph K.

  2. Yes, but at the time I wrote it only the reduction in sentence for sex offenders had been dropped.


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