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MA responds to Justice Select Committee consultations

MA responses

18 September 2020
MA responds to Justice Select Committee consultations

The MA has responded to the Justice Select Committee's inquiry on the future of the probation service. The inquiry is examining the proposed model for the new probation service and how well it addressed the problems identified in the past.

The MA welcomed the move to end the competition for Probation Delivery Partners and bring those elements that currently sit with community rehabilitation companies back under the control of the National Probation Service. We noted that re-establishing a properly integrated probation service could increase sentencer confidence and ensure robust offender management. We noted, however, that while the change of structure seems likely to have a positive impact on confidence in community sentence options, is it imperative that the model is supported by adequate resources. We also emphasised the importance of ensuring that specialist services for specific cohorts, such as women offenders, are available across England and Wales. The full response can be found here.

The MA has also responded to the Justice Select Committee's call for evidence on court capacity. The inquiry is examining the impact of Covid-19 on court sitting days and the backlog of cases, the extent to which courts have appropriate capacity post-Covid-19, and long-term solutions to reduce delays in cases coming to trial.

The MA expressed concern about the impact of Covid-19 on the backlog of cases and the impact delays can have for all parties. We noted the findings of a recent MA survey which collected magistrates' views of proposals to reduce the backlog and found that magistrates are willing to make adjustments, such as doing sittings outside of usual hours, to help address the backlog. We also noted that while we have supported the increased use of technology to progress cases while reducing the risk of transmission of coronavirus, we continue to have concerns over the use of video link for defendants in relation to their fair participation as well as access to justice. The full response can be found here.

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