MANCHESTER CITY COUNCIL REPORT FOR INFORMATION. The work of the Criminal Justice System

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1 MANCHESTER CITY COUNCIL REPORT FOR INFORMATION Committee: Citizenship and Inclusion Overview and Scrutiny Committee Date: October 2007 Subject: Report of: The work of the Criminal Justice System Maureen Noble, Head of Crime and Disorder Purpose of Report: Inform Committee Members of the scope of the Adult Criminal Justice System and its operation in Manchester. NB: This overview report has been compiled by officers of the Crime and Disorder Unit in the City Council from information provided by the Probation and National Offender Management Service, Police data, Court Service and other agencies within the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership. Recommendations: The Committee is asked to: i) Note the contents of the report. ii) Recommend areas for further development and joint working Contacts Maureen Noble Pete Whiteley Head of Crime and Disorder ; Delivery Manager, Crime and Disorder Team ; Introduction A wide number of agencies work together within the criminal justice system including the Police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Courts, the Probation Service and the National Offender Management Service. 1

2 The purpose of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) is to deliver justice for all, by convicting and punishing the guilty and helping them to stop offending, while protecting the innocent. It is responsible for detecting crime and bringing offenders to justice; and carrying out the orders of court, such as collecting fines, and supervising community and custodial punishment. The key goals for the Criminal Justice System are to : Help reduce crime by bringing more offences to justice Raise public confidence that the system is fair and will deliver for the lawabiding citizen (that includes increasing the satisfaction of victims and witnesses with the treatment they receive). This report focuses on the operation of the criminal justice system from the point of arrest to the completion of a sentence. To that extent the report will provide information on: 1. Overview of the criminal justice system 2. The Manchester context 3. Reducing re-offending 4. The support and services available to victims and witnesses 5. Community engagement and local partnerships 1. Overview of the criminal justice system From arrest to conviction The key stages in the criminal justice system from arrest to conviction can be summarised as follows: Arrest Serious crimes such as theft, burglary and most assaults carry a power of arrest. This means that if the police suspect someone has committed such a crime, they can take the suspect to a police station to be detained and, if necessary, be questioned about the offence in a tape-recorded interview. Charge In most cases, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will decide whether to charge a person with a criminal offence, and will determine the appropriate charge or charges. In some more minor or routine cases, the police determine the charge. Bail Bail can be granted by the courts or the police. Where bail is granted, the person released from custody until the next date when they attend court or the police station. If bail is refused, this will be because the police or the court believes that, if released on bail the person will abscond (not turn up to court), commit an offence, interfere with witnesses or otherwise interfere with the criminal justice process. If a defendant does not stick to their bail conditions, or fails to attend court on the set date, they are likely to be arrested and may have their bail withdrawn. Magistrates Courts All criminal cases start in the Magistrates' courts. The less serious offences are handled entirely in the magistrates court. Over 95% of all cases are dealt. 2 Crown Court Deals with Serious offences such as murder, manslaughter, rape and robbery; Offences transferred from the Magistrates Court because of their seriousness. Appeals from the Magistrates

3 Sentencing Following conviction, the courts can impose four levels of sentence, depending on the seriousness of the offence: 1. Discharges Absolute discharge No further action is taken, since either the offence was very minor, or the court considers that the experience has been enough of a deterrent. The offender will receive a criminal record. Conditional discharge The offender is released and the offence registered on their criminal record. No further action is taken unless they commit a further offence within a period decided by the court (no more than three years). 2. Fines Fines are the most common option used by the courts for a wide variety of offences. In the Magistrates' Courts offences that attract fines are subject to maximums from level 1 to level 5. Level 1: Maximum 200 Level 5: Maximum 5,000 There is no limit to the amount the Crown Court can fine, but the amount imposed will take into account the seriousness of the offence and the offender s ability to pay. 3. Community Sentencing A community sentence combines punishment with changing offenders' behaviour and making amends. Community sentences can also encourage the offender to deal with any problems that might be making them commit crime, such as drug addiction. The range of requirements available within a generic community sentence or Community Order are: Compulsory (unpaid) work; Participation in any specified activities; Programmes aimed at changing offending behaviour; Prohibition from certain activities; Curfew; 3

4 Exclusion from certain areas; Residence requirement; Mental health treatment (with consent of the offender); Drug treatment and testing (with consent of the offender); Alcohol treatment (with consent of the offender); Supervision 4. Imprisonment If a crime is an imprisonable offence, it will have a maximum term laid down by Parliament. A limited number of crimes have a minimum sentence. For a long sentence, a prisoner could be held in a prison anywhere in the country. For shorter sentences, they are likely to remain in their local area. Offenders can also be subject to a suspended term of imprisonment. The Sentencing Guidelines Council The Sentencing Guidelines Council, which was created in 2004, has responsibility for producing guidelines for use in all criminal courts. Any guidelines that are issued by the Council must be followed or reasons must be given by the judge or magistrate if they depart from them. The Sentencing Guidelines Council published its first set of draft guidelines at the end of September Attached as an appendix is the Sentencing Council s Definitive Sentencing Guideline on Robbery (issued July 2006) as an example of the type of guidelines provided. 2. The Manchester Context Manchester Magistrates Court is the largest court in the North-West. Unlike other court services, it covers three police divisions and as such it has a comparatively heavy case-load. For example, twice as many cases go through Manchester Magistrates Courts compared to Liverpool. The performance of Manchester Court Service against its key performance targets is generally encouraging as described by the table below. National Key Performance Target Current Performance as at July 2007 Ineffective trials not to exceed 16.5% of the total (ie only 19% (nb the rolling 16.5% of trials to be adjourned). annual figure is 16.7%. However, there has been slippage in recent months) Collect 83% of fines imposed 120% (This includes collection of old debt) The time from arrest to sentence for cases involving 45 days persistent young offenders (PYOs) to average 65 days 60% of cases involving breach of community order (eg an 52% ASBO) should be dealt with in 25 days. The average time to deal with all all cases involving 43 4

5 breach of community order should be 35 days or less. In 100% of cases involving vulnerable or intimidated witnesses, the police Witness Care Unit must be informed of the case outcome within 24 hours 100% The role of Magistrates Magistrates (also known as Justices of the Peace) carry out their duties locally and deal with almost 95% of criminal cases. They normally sit as a bench of three including one who has been trained to take the court Chairman role.. There is always a legally qualified Legal Adviser to advise on law and procedure. What sort of people become magistrates? Magistrates come from a wide range of backgrounds and occupations. They are people with personal integrity and a good knowledge of their local community. It is a requirement that Magistrates appointed must either live or work in Manchester. Very few people are automatically disqualified, but an undischarged bankrupt may not be appointed, nor anyone who has been convicted of a serious offence. Minor motoring offences will not normally disqualify a person. No formal or academic qualifications are not required. Nor is knowledge of the law because each bench sits with a qualified legal adviser who is there to advise on relevant aspects of the law. Sentencing guidelines are also provided (as detailed earlier). Many people in full time employment serve as magistrates. Employers are legally obliged to give magistrates reasonable time off for their duties. Many employers also agree to pay for at least a proportion of time spent on the bench. How are magistrates selected and appointed? Magistrates are appointed by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice on the advice of local Advisory Committees. Residents interested in being appointed, need to complete an application form. The Advisory Committee may then invite the applicant to a first interview and, if successful, a second interview to discuss the duties of a magistrate, views on crime and punishment, and qualities that the individual might bring to the magistracy. Residents of Manchester who are interested in becoming a Magistrate can contact the Secretary to the Manchester Advisory Committee, Crown Square, Manchester, M60 1PR. The Manchester Bench is one of the largest in the country with over 600 magistrates. Benches should, as far as possible, reflect the communities they serve. Each year, the Advisory Committees look at the needs of their benches, not only in terms of the numbers required, but also to maintain a balance of gender, ethnic origin, location, occupation, industry, age, disability and social background. It is a positive achievement that the ethnic breakdown of Magistrates in Manchester broadly reflects the make-up of the community they serve, although many members of the Manchester Bench do not live in the City. Training and support Magistrates are given a programme of practical training that prepares them to sit in court. This is compulsory and involves talks and discussions and practical exercises, observing in court and visits to prison establishments. 5

6 3. Reducing Re-offending The role of the Probation Service Whilst reducing re-offending is an aim and responsibility of the whole CDRP, the Probation Service is the key agency that leads on delivery and day to day management of this function. In 2006, Manchester Probation Service had a caseload of 4706 offenders. The Probation Service operates in the context of the National Offender Management Model that puts the offender at the heart of delivery through the process of end to end offender management. In practice, this means ensuring that offenders are assessed and clear goals are set for reducing re-offending. This involves a package of interventions from a range of partners that are structured according to the level of risk that the offender presents. Those interventions are based on the pathways identified below. Reducing Re-offending Pathways The Social Exclusion Unit report, Reducing Re-offending by Ex-prisoners, identified key factors that reduce re-offending. These factors have been developed into pathways where a multi agency approach provides operational support to individual offenders. The pathways are: Accommodation Education, training and employment Health Drugs and alcohol Finance, benefit and debt Children and families Attitudes, thinking and behaviour. In Manchester there is a multi agency group that takes a strategic lead on each pathway. Measuring the effectiveness of sentencing - Re-Offending rates The most recent data on national and local re-offending rates is from The figures below show the percentage of offenders who re-offended within two years of their sentence. National re-offending rates = 57.6% Great Manchester = 49.4% Manchester City = 48.2% There is no national instrument that allows the Probation Service to measure reoffending regularly at a local level. However, Manchester Probation Service does currently collect regular data on the re-offending rates for Prolific and Priority Offenders. Prolific and Priority Offenders Home Office research suggests that within the group of 100,000 of the most prolific offenders in England & Wales, a smaller group of 5,000 super-prolific offenders are responsible for 9% of all crime. The Prolific and other Priority Offender (PPO) Strategy, introduced by the Home Office in September 2004, asks Crime and 6

7 Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs), together with Local Criminal Justice Groups, to provide an enhanced programme of monitoring and interventions aimed at these offenders and young people at risk of becoming the super-prolific offenders of the future Manchester has a Strategy for PPOs that covers the three police divisions. The identified PPOs for each division are monitored and supported through multi agency Joint Offender Targeting meetings (JOTs). There is a JOT for each police division that measures progress by receiving quarterly updates on the re-offending rates for PPOs. Set out below is the data for the last quarter of 2006/07 and the first quarter of 2007/08. QUARTER 1 QUARTER 2 No of PPO s Reoffending Rate No. of offences No of PPO s Reoffending Rate No.of offences 92 33% % Support for Victims and Witnesses Services to victims and witnesses are delivered by a number of agencies who work to targets set by the national Code of Practice for Victims of Crime. The Code does not impose any legal obligations nor any penalties on agencies but sets out a number of expectations as regards the level of service they provide. Set out below are the different services provided in Manchester. Services provided by the Victim Support and Witness Service The Manchester Victim Support and Witness Service provides support in respect of all crimes ranging from theft of pedal cycle to anti social behaviour and murder. In the 2005/06 financial year, the Service dealt with 38,707 referrals & supported 3000 Witnesses & supporters within the Magistrates Court. The Witness Service is a voluntary sector agency that is part of the overall Victim Support and Witness Service. Paid staff and volunteers provide support and information for victims and witnesses attending court to give evidence. The type of services offered include: Pre-trial visits to court Separate entrances to court for victims and witnesses Providing a separate waiting area away from the defendant. Procedural explanations Accompaniment into the courtroom Assistance in claiming expenses The service also provides the following specialist services: Volunteer support provides practical and emotional support to victims of crime either on the telephone or face to face Outreach Services - Whilst the main office for the Service is in the city centre, there are, at present, nine locations that are used as outreach premises and which are staffed by volunteers on an appointment system. 7

8 Serious Crime worker - A dedicated serious crime worker deals with all aspects of serious crime such as severe assaults, gun crime and homicide. Specialist volunteers deal with child witnesses. They offer a home visit during which they use material prepared by the NSPCC. Counselling Service - At the end of 2006, Victim Support had seven qualified counsellors and one trainee who provide a counselling service as and when appropriate. Criminal injuries compensation - A dedicated officer in the Victim Support Service processes claims for criminal injuries compensation free of charge for victims and witnesses. Domestic Violence Workers - There are 2 domestic violence workers based in the Victim Support Service, one of whom is funded by the CDRP. Together with 20 trained volunteers, they give emotional support and advice to victims of domestic violence Support from other agencies Witness Care Unit Witness Care Units were established in recent years as response to the view that victims and witnesses were treated unfairly and that the criminal justice process was in favour of the defendant. The aim of Units is to provide support to victims and witnesses from the point of charge through to the conclusion of a case. Courts Service Much of the support provided to victims and witness at court comes from agencies mentioned earlier. However, court staff have a key role to play not only in providing direct assistance to victims and witnesses but also in making information available to other agencies as soon as possible so they can pursue the objectives in the Code of Practice. Direct support to witnesses from the Court Service can include: Accommodating witnesses appropriately, eg. in separate waiting areas to the defendant Ensuring that any Special Measures equipment such as video link and screens etc are provided when required Keeping witnesses informed of the progress of a case Probation Under the Victim's Charter the Probation Service is required to contact victims in cases where an offender has received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more for a violent or sexual offence. The Victim Liaison Officer's (VLO) role is to provide information about the sentence that the offender will serve and discuss any concerns that the victim may have about the offender's eventual release from prison. 5. Engagement and partnerships Methods of engaging with the wider community The court service has a number of ways that it encourages participation from and dialogue with Manchester residents. These include: Work experience placements for young people Mock trials for classes of school children who take part in the process and have their say Regular open days 8

9 The Magistrates in the Community Group who give presentations and talks for community groups A communications strategy and associated activity that publicises the instances where the criminal justice system has been effective In addition to the above, Radio Manchester will be doing a show in October geared around the criminal justice system that will be broadcast from various locations including the Magistrates Court. Engagement as such is not measured within the court service. However, the court service is a key agency in achieving the Local Criminal Justice Board target of achieving 41% public confidence that the criminal justice system is effective in bringing offenders to justice. Engaging local citizens in the justice process is a key priority of the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership and will feature strongly in the Crime Strategy. The importance of citizen involved cannot be underestimated, community confidence in and understanding of the justice process and outcomes is central to achieving community support in all aspect of crime reduction. Citizens need confidence that both the process and the outcomes of the justice system are fair, equitable and effective. A programme of work will be piloted with the Youth Offending Team through the Super-RESPECT areas that will test new ways of engaging citizens in the Justice Process. Links with partners - The Local Criminal Justice Board and Local Criminal Justice Group Each region has a Local Criminal Justice Board that provides the strategic links between the criminal justice agencies in that area. Greater Manchester Local Criminal Justice Board (GMLCJB) was established in It looks at how the system can improve the way it catches, convicts and rehabilitates criminals in Greater Manchester. The Board also look at how to improve public confidence in the CJS and ensure people feel confident in coming forward and reporting crime. The LCJB is seeking to improve co-operation between the different criminal justice agencies to enable the system to act as a service run for victims and the community it serves. For the City of Manchester, there is a Local Criminal Justice Group (LCJG) which is chaired by the Police and that has the same strategic aims as the LCJB (but with a Manchester specific focus). The LCJG has strong links with the CDRP and many of its members are the same. Membership of the LCJG comprises the Police, Probation, CPS, Court Service, the YOT and the local authority. The whole group meets monthly and has a number of sub groups that provide carry out operational tasks. In addition, there are other examples of operational partnership working such as the Police Liaison Group run at the courts that looks at operational systems and how to improve them (eg transporting prisoners, tracking charge sheets, submission of documents etc). Achievements in partnership working The success in achieving the target for persistent young offenders (PYOs) is a huge improvement on previous performance and is a result of effective partnership working. Over recent years there has been a much better dialogue between the key agencies involved with young offenders that has led to this improvement. Developments in partnership working Simple, Speedy, Summary Justice 9

10 The Lord Chancellor s review document, Delivering Simple, Speedy, Summary Justice sets out key changes that aim to reform the way the courts handle cases, connect with their communities and improve public confidence. The new measures include piloting courts to take justice closer to the people and the concept of next day justice where specific offences will be heard between 24 and 72 hours. The measures will ensure closer partnership working at an operational level to achieve its key aims. The review document states that changes will aim to provide a modern criminal justice system responsive to 21st Century needs and expectations. This means that justice will aim to be: Simple: cases that are best dealt with by way of warning, caution or some other effective remedy to prevent re-offending without the court process will not enter the courts. Speedy: those cases that require a court process will be dealt with as quickly as possible consistent with the needs of justice. Summary: a much more proportionate approach - for example dealing with appropriate cases the day after charge or during the same week. Expediting the process in this way will make it less strenuous for victims and witnesses. It is expected that this system will be implemented in Manchester in December Following its implementation, it is hoped that all cases can be dealt with within six weeks in the Magistrates Court. There should also be other tangible benefits. For example, currently, there is scope in the system for defence lawyers to delay proceedings on a number of grounds such as insufficient notice for serving papers or evidence. The new system will hopefully address these types of delay. As part of the Simple, Speedy, Summary programme, it is also expected that Magistrates will be given additional sentencing powers so as to remove pressure from Crown Courts. Scope for further joined up working The Criminal Justice Service has experienced similar difficulties as the CDRP insofar as there are different targets for different agencies. Shared targets would mean a more co-ordinated and effective approach to common objectives. Other areas where joined up working could lead to improvements are: Notification of all witnesses at every stage of proceedings Availability of police officers to attend proceedings Getting all the paperwork to courts on time If the system for Simple, Speedy, Summary Justice realises its aims, many of these improvements could be achieved. Conclusion The Criminal Justice System is a complex and multi-faceted system that has historically functioned at the perimeter of partnership working. New legislation coupled with an increased focus on public accountability and public involvement means that all the agencies within the system, and the mechanisms for developing partnership working, need to engage more closely to develop a modern and citizen focused approach to delivering justice in Manchester. 10

11 The CDRP has prioritised the development of these relationships and the new Crime Strategy for will seek to cement joint working and public involvement. 11

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