AccessData has been working with the UK’s Royal Military Police Service Police Crime Bureau to speed up their forensic investigations. In addition to the obvious benefits in efficiency and reputation, there are pure cost gains.
The UK government has recently been trying to reduce the time and expense of dealing with “the law” in its various forms. To those of us whose primary focus is civil litigation, this government intervention has taken the form of restraints on costs, engineered by strengthening judicial control of case management, by limiting recoverable costs and by an express emphasis on proportionality. The reforms have been accompanied by cuts in civil legal aid and in front-line court staff, with obvious implications for the efficient working of civil justice.
At the same time, there are battles going on about the right to bring judicial review proceedings and about the availability of legal aid in criminal proceedings. There has been much criticism of the proposals on broad grounds to do with access to justice, but much of the attack has been based on the Ministry of Justice statistics and on the mismatch between the government’s alleged targets and those who will suffer by the changes. Critics (of whom I am one) say that, quite apart from any arguments about justice or fairness, the alleged savings seem to take no account of the consequential costs of the changes – the hearings prolonged because of unrepresented parties, the actual and social costs of the anticipated increase in convictions, and the other things which flow when the system goes into paralysis.
Meanwhile another and more specific debate is going on about the length of police bail, something which has attracted attention as a result of police activity against high-profile figures involved in phone hacking, and in unacceptable sexual activities alleged against faded celebrities. Many of the suspects have had their houses raided at dawn, something else which has excited adverse comment as we question whether a senior newspaper executive or 80-year-old BBC “personality” is going to do a runner if given notice of impending arrest. We agitate on their behalf when they are bailed for months or even years, with the stigma and the pressure hanging over them whilst the police proceed with their procedures. Read the rest of this entry »