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Met chief calls for criminal justice reform to “let the police police”

The head of the Metropolitan Police has called for ‘overdue’ reform of the criminal justice to end bureaucracy for his officers and ‘let the police police’.

In conversation with Sir Trevor Phillips OBE for thinktank Policy Exchange yesterday, Met Police commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said it takes fives times more work to get cases to court than it did 20 years ago.

‘The complex legal duties of disclosure and redaction have been pushed to the front end of the system, slowing down justice and creating nugatory work for officers,’ Rowley said.

‘In other jurisdictions, prosecutors do most of this work, the work we expect police officers to do, and it’s done post-charge. It’s no surprise if you make a system more costly and bureaucratic, it will achieve less. That’s why we have fewer cases solved and successfully prosecuted than we did over past decades.

‘Criminal justice reform is overdue and the effect of that will be to let the police police.’

Lord Carlile of Berriew (Alex Carlile KC), the first chair of the London Policing Ethics Panel, told Rowley during Q&As that it was a big deal for a man or woman to make a rape complaint. ‘Isn’t it still the case that about 95% of rape complaints are not pursued but over 60% of rape complainants in cases that start to be pursued withdraw because of the complexities of process and the time it takes, and that it’s inexcusable for such cases to take two-and-a-half years to reach court.

‘Isn’t it high time for all police forces to get together with the CPS and the courts to ensure that the existing and competent police RASSO process is reproduced in a way that brings these cases to trial quickly and fairly? I think I speak confidently when I say to you, young women have very little trust in the police in London at the present time.’

Rowley replied: ‘The criminal justice reform agenda is so overdue because victims need to be able to get this behind them as quickly as possible and we do not at the moment have a system that does that. Part of that is about charging – we need to be able to charge offenders much more early.

‘The temporary arrangements that were put in place for Covid have effectively been sustained where most cases are bailed for a CPS decision rather than charged at the first opportunity.’

(Source: The Law Society Gazette)

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