Fewer than half of the criminals brought to justice by authorities in England and Wales are taken to court, it was revealed today.
A watchdog said offences are increasingly being dealt with by a slap on the wrist or an on-the-spot fine.
Stephen Wooler, chief inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “There has been a decline in recent years in the number of prosecutions both in absolute terms and as a proportion of offences brought to justice.
“Typically, prosecutions now count for between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of the offences brought to justice within a criminal justice area.
Almost a quarter of lawyers want to leave the profession because of stress and long hours, according to a survey published this week.
The poll of 2,500 lawyers also indicates that assistant solicitors — those who are not partners — are even more unhappy, with more than a third wanting to give up their jobs.
The YouGov survey for The Lawyer magazine confirms that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the work-life balance in law, despite record levels of pay.
It coincides with an inquiry by the Law Society of England and Wales into the long hours and lack of career prospects for lawyers with families.
In his ten years as Prime Minister, Tony Blair has introduced a new law every three-and- a-quarter hours, new research reveals.
Since 1997, an average of 2,685 laws have been passed every year – a 22 per cent rise on the previous decade.
They have covered subjects ranging from the importing of bed linen to the evaluation of statistics on labour costs.
The Lord Chancellor faces renewed pressure to drop or delay plans for overhauling the legal aid scheme with a damning report today from MPs.
The Constitutional Affairs Committee says that if the proposed reforms go ahead, there is a risk to access to justice for the most vulnerable in society.The Constitutional Affairs Committee says that if the proposed reforms go ahead. there is a risk to access to justice for the most vulnerable in society.
Four separate court challenges are being prepared against the Lord Chancellor over plans to overhaul the scheme.
The report further expresses concern about the impact on ethnic minority law firms, which tend to be small and to cater for the ethnic minority communities.
One of the most important parts of the welfare state was the Legal Aid and Advice Act of 1949, which ensured “assistance and legal advice…so that no one will be financially unable to prosecute a just and reasonable claim or to defend a legal right”.
The innocent and vulnerable facing criminal proceedings were protected by a comprehensive national scheme. But 60 years later, New Labour is demolishing these basic rights.
The imminent implementation of the Carter proposals means that if you are arrested, an inexperienced minion in an NHS-Direct-style agency can deny you a solicitor. If you manage to get past this, you will no longer be able to have the solicitor of your choice, but instead will be appointed one from a list.
Tens of millions of pounds in court fines are never paid every year, according to MPs.
The Public Accounts Committee (PCA), which made the claim, has called for urgent reform of “ridiculous” arrangements for collecting cash from offenders.
Its report said that in 2004/05, fines totalling £69m – almost a fifth of the annual total by value – were cancelled at a cost of £28m.
It also found the Government has no way of knowing how many offenders have actually paid what they were told to by the courts.
The shift towards more summary justice is driven by financial concerns and will not improve public confidence in the criminal justice system, magistrates have warned.
In a letter to the prime minister, the Magistrates Association says that although JPs want to dispense speedy justice, the extended use on-the-spot fines on the grounds of cost-effectiveness “cannot be right”.
“There is a growing belief that the extended use of fixed penalty notices and penalty notices for disorder is considered only as a financial rather than a judicial solution to crime and does not result in a better society and increased public confidence,” it says.
The concerns are raised in a new report from the association warning that a lack of funding in the courts system is delaying and stopping criminals being brought to justice.