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Monday Message 12.08.2013

CBA Chairman’s Update:
Michael Turner QC


Personal Email: [email protected]
Tel: 07951157030
1.       Do Right Fear No One; Chairman’s Comment.
2.       Mr Grayling attacks the Mirror and gets more than he bargained for.
3.       The Myth of falling crime stats. The cautioning scandal continues.
4.       The Story of Leroy Skeet: Why our prisoners need legal aid.
5.       Production failures rise by 75%.
6.       The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee publishes its
          2nd Report on Forensic Science. 

7.       Now what they couldn’t anticipate: How the New Forensic Providers are
          bleeding the system.

8.       What will Capita do come October?
9.       Sir Henry Brooke and Raju Bhatt add their voices to the fight.
10.     Sir Henry Brooke reminds us of Sir John Thomas’s quite brilliant
          protection of the Court system.

11.     G4S withdraws from tagging contract.
12.     CBA Credit Cards coming your way.
13.     Stuart Wilde helps your Chairman to interpret some troubling dreams.
1.       Do Right Fear No One: Chairman’s Comment
Last week the BSB were busy jumping on band wagons pretending that QASA had something to do with quality HERE.   We all know it does not. We are doing everything in our power to support all our members who are seeking to Do Right and Fear No One on a daily basis. Unlike the BSB and many others we will only pass comment on a specific case when all the facts are known and the affected member wishes us to do so.
Do Right, Fear No One
2.       Mr Grayling attacks the Mirror and gets more than he bargained for.
In last weeks Sunday Mirror Dean Dunham wrote a considered article on the effect of Mr Grayling disingenuous plans.
Such was its effect that Mr Grayling demanded a right to reply. He got it HERE but not before the Mirror had had the good sense to take legal advice.
The Editor had the final word.
WE are used to fictional lawyers like Perry Mason and Rumpole of the Bailey tearing apart dodgy witnesses.
But by any standard, the clinical dissection delivered by Michael Turner, chair of the ­Criminal Bar, in today’s Sunday Mirror is remarkable.
Particularly as the person he rips into is Justice Secretary Chris Grayling – the man responsible for England’s legal system. Mr Grayling had ­attacked Sunday Mirror columnist Dean Dunham for saying that legal aid reforms would undermine the principle of access to justice for all.
Only unworthy cases would be affected, the minister insisted, and no one would lose one of this country’s fundamental rights.
But Mr Turner wouldn’t let that pass ­unchallenged. “The only person who is grossly misleading the public,” he said, “is Mr Grayling.”
Leading lawyers have presented the Justice Secretary with alternative ways to bring down the legal aid bill, yet he won’t listen or even meet them. Instead he continues to trot out a series of right-wing myths and prejudices in defence of his “reforms”, the consequences of which will be catastrophic for countless innocent people.
Chris Grayling is the first non-lawyer in almost 350 years to hold the post of Lord Chancellor – now called the Justice Secretary – and his ignorance of how the law works is only too obvious.
He is doing to the legal system what Iain ­Duncan Smith is doing to welfare. Wrecking it at the expense of the poor and vulnerable.
When lawyers march in protest against a government policy and their leader speaks in such forthright terms about a minister, you know something is seriously wrong.”

3.       The Myth of falling crime stats. The cautioning scandal continues.
You can better you bottom dollar that come the next election David Cameron will be trumpeting the fact that it appears that crime has fallen by so many per cent. Will anyone realise how this apparent drop in figures has been achieved? This Government is incentivising local authorities not to charge those accused even of crimes of violence and this is how it lets down its citizen’s HERE.
The hypocrisy of this policy is truly staggering.
4.       The Story of Leroy Skeet: Why our prisoners need legal aid.
Thanks to Gemma’s blog we have the important history of Leroy Skeet who would not have achieved a just outcome if his only recourse was to a prison ombudsman.
5.         The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee publishes its 2nd Report on Forensic Science
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee publishes its 2nd Report on Forensic Science since the demise of the FSS and frightening reading it makes.
Volume 1: 
Volume II: 
It makes for pretty terrifying reading. We give you a brief taste from the conclusions below. Present day politicians are seemingly incapable of learning the lessons of history however recent it may be. Let us hope this report might change things. Sadly I doubt it.
“Direct costs of closing the FSS
1.  In relation to direct costs to the Home Office, the FSS transition appears to have been well managed. However, the Minister’s logic around the value for money of closing the FSS was weak. First, it was based on the flawed statistic that the FSS was losing £2 million a month and was therefore inaccurate. Second, it was a simplistic interpretation that did not appear to consider whether closing the FSS had incurred additional costs to the public purse elsewhere, for example to police forces. (Paragraph 7)
2.  The Minister’s response to the question of value for money reflected that he had not prepared for the evidence session, and in particular had not read our previous report nor the evidence we had received for this inquiry. Throughout the evidence session with the Minister we were disappointed at his disregard of his responsibility toward a parliamentary select committee. (Paragraph 8)

Police expenditure
3.  We were disappointed that the Government appeared to rely on beliefs and impressions of in-sourcing and market size rather than evidence. Without access to full police expenditure figures we are not able to draw conclusions on the extent to which police in-sourcing of forensic activities has led to a shrinking of the external forensics market. (Paragraph 17)
4.  We are concerned that the continuing uncertainty over the current and future size of the market risks undermining the willingness and capacity of private forensic providers (FSPs) to operate and invest in that market. The Home Office and Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) should immediately establish a working group to review the accounting practices of police forces to introduce consistency and standardisation. In the interests of public accountability, transparency and business planning for companies in the market, full police accounts, including all forensic science expenditure, should be published annually. Police and Crime Commissioners have a role in providing stronger and more transparent accountability of the police and should support this work. (Paragraph 18)
5.  We further recommend that the National Audit Office (NAO) should examine whether forensic science activities conducted by police forces internally represent value for money for taxpayers. This study should look at value for money across the CJS as well as the police. (Paragraph 19)

Forensic service procurement
6.  We are disappointed that the Government and police do not appear to have acted on our recommendations on controlling further police in-sourcing and building up evidence on fragmentation when developing the National Forensic Framework – Next Generation (NFFNG). (Paragraph 31)
7.  Although there are benefits (particularly to police forces), some aspects of the NFFNG appear to be unpopular amongst private FSPs. It is more complex than its predecessor and does not encourage a partnership approach towards procurement of forensic services. It has also increased the administrative burden on FSPs, which risks affecting smaller companies disproportionately. This is surprising given the Government is generally intent on decreasing bureaucracy and burdens on businesses. In the interests of market stability, we are hesitant to advocate significant changes to the NFFNG. However, we consider that the NFFNG itself is currently contributing to market instability by encouraging short term contracts. Fortunately, police forces are not compelled to use it. We support the concept of regional collaborations between police forces when procuring forensic science services. As well as potentially being cost effective it reduces the complexity of customer demand for FSPs. We encourage police forces to adopt collaborative procurement models similar to that used by forces in the North East instead of the NFFNG. We consider that a partnership approach towards procurement of forensic services would result in better forensic science and a better outcome for the CJS. Police forces should also seek to realise the potential for regional collaborations wherever possible. We also encourage forces to be cognisant of the important warnings given by eminent scientists, such as Dr Tully, about the dangers of fragmentation in procurement. (Paragraph 32)

Quality standards
8.  It appears that the FSS transition was well managed with regards to the maintenance of quality standards. We are satisfied that forensic work was not transferred from the FSS to unaccredited FSPs. (Paragraph 39)
9.  Further in-sourcing, particularly in the absence of quality standards, raises serious questions about impartiality and the pressures on police scientists to produce favourable results. The Government should remain mindful that the FSS was originally established to create a separation between the police and forensic science provision. (Paragraph 41)
10.  We suggest that the Law Commission continues to keep under review the issue of police impartiality in relation to the provision of expert evidence. (Paragraph 42)
11.  The right to opt-out and then selectively opt back into pre-Lisbon EU police and criminal law measures may explain some of the Government and police complacency that we observed over police laboratory accreditation. Recognising the need for common standards, the Government should consider the consequences of not opting back into Council Framework Decision 2009/905/JHA. (Paragraph 47)
12.  There is no legitimate reason for police laboratories to conduct forensic science in the absence of accreditation. We further recommend that all police laboratories should achieve and maintain accreditation to ISO 17025 for all forensic testing activities. (Paragraph 48)
13.  In addition, all private FSPs and police forces should (i) adhere to the FSR’s Codes of Practice and Conduct and (ii) consider the merits of achieving accreditation to ISO 17020 for crime scene activities. (Paragraph 49)
14.  We consider that the FSR should have statutory powers to enforce compliance with quality standards, particularly as the forensic science landscape has now radically changed. A powerful domestic regulator will be particularly important as the UK has decided not to opt back into Council Framework Decision 2009/905/JHA. We reiterate our original recommendation that the Government should immediately bring forward proposals to provide the FSR with statutory powers and further recommend that it decides on a statutory role by March 2014. (Paragraph 51)

Forensic science in court
15.  In principle, we support the Forensic Science Society’s project to develop a searchable database of forensic experts. (Paragraph 54)
16.  We do not consider that recreating a register of experts such as the Council for Registration of Forensic Practitioners (CRFP) is necessary as it would not improve the quality of evidence provided by expert witnesses. The Government has had two years to respond to the Law Commissions proposals for an admissibility test for expert evidence and should publish its response without further delay. We recommend that the Government supports the Law Commission’s proposals. (Paragraph 61)
17.  Although we do not consider that the Forensic Science Regulator should be involved in every, or even the majority of court cases, we can see the benefits of having an independent source of advice in cases with disputes over the quality of the forensic evidence. We await the FSR’s guidance on this matter with interest. (Paragraph 62)
18.  In principle, we consider that forensic science services conducted for the defence should be subject to the same level of quality control as those for the prosecution. The Government should support the Forensic Science Regulator’s efforts to extend the scope of regulation to defence experts. (Paragraph 64)

Scientific research capacity
19.  We do not accept that this is a correct interpretation of the Haldane principle. The Government regularly chooses to fund particular areas of research at a strategic level and then the Haldane principle is applied when detailed funding allocations are made. The Government and Research Councils should support forensic science as a strategic priority or give a comprehensive explanation as to why they haven’t. (Paragraph 69)
20.  Although it is relatively new, we welcome the Technology Strategy Board’s development of a Special Interest Group in forensic science. However, it does not resolve the funding gap in forensic science. The Government should state its views on the risks to the CJS posed by this funding gap and outline how it intends to address them. (Paragraph 75)
21.  We are disappointed that it remains as difficult as ever for forensic science researchers to obtain funding for research. Although the Silverman Review has led to some positive outcomes for forensic science, it has not addressed the chronic lack of funding faced by the sector. (Paragraph 80)
22.  The Government should clarify (i) whether the closure of the FSS has resulted in a net loss of forensic science R&D investment in England and Wales and (ii) whether there has been a reduction in the UK’s forensic science output, as measured by peer-reviewed papers and citations. (Paragraph 81)
23.  It would be helpful if there was a complete and accurate picture of the publicly funded forensic science R&D landscape in England and Wales, including funding from Research Councils, Government departments and agencies and international sources (including EU funding). In addition, similar information from the private sector would be valuable, notwithstanding the need to protect commercial interests. (Paragraph 82)
24.  The UK risks falling behind on the exploitation of new research and technologies, which could have adverse effects on the criminal justice system. The Home Office should follow-up the Silverman Review to evaluate the current R&D landscape and identify where reliance on outdated technologies may be jeopardising criminal justice. The Government should allocate or stimulate funding for collaborative research projects around these priorities. (Paragraph 83)

Scientific staff of the FSS
25.  We recognise the frustrations of ex-FSS scientists who have been employed by other organisations and found that their skills are not being fully exploited. However inevitable it may have been that re-employed scientists would not utilise all their previous skills in working for a new organisation, it still represents a loss of intellectual wealth in forensic science. (Paragraph 88)
26.  The Government is wrong to assume that forensic science capacity, once lost, can be quickly built up if necessary. During our visits, we heard that once leaving forensic science, many experienced scientists would be unable or unwilling to re-enter it. Furthermore, junior forensic scientists entering the profession will not have the years of experience and training that was characteristic of many of the scientists that have now left the profession. (Paragraph 91)”
6.       Now what they couldn’t anticipate: How the New Forensic Providers are bleeding the system.
The Guardian has discovered that the New Providers are now charging for the release of their product to the defence HERE.   You must be really proud of this new scheme for making money for the private sector at the expense of the citizen, Mr Grayling. Either the legal aid pot is bleed dry or the case is halted by reason of abuse and a potential guilty man walks free. Another cracking idea from the MOJ.
7.       Production failures rise by 75%.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalist has revealed that court production failures have risen by 75% in comparison to 2012 HERE.
The on cost of such failures must be staggering. If there were any truth in Mr Grayling’s bleat abound being intent on saving the tax payer money he would start with making sure the likes of SERCO do the job they are contracted to do, particularly so when you realise that SERCO are charging the Government up to £800 per delivery. What is the incentive for the MOJ to turn a blind eye to the obvious savings that can be achieved? We may be in a position to give you the answer before too long.
8.       What will Capita do come October?
Come October 2013 it will be the law that competent interpreters must be available to assist those who face trial in our Court system HERE.  Capita have thus far proved spectacularly incompetent in fulfilling that role. More wasted costs heading our way! Can there be any doubt that the MOJ are red hot favourites for the National title of “Most Incompetent Government Department”.  On current form they will have a good shot at the World title.
9.     Sir Henry Brooke and Raju Bhatt add their voices to the fight.
Two legal luminaries, Sir Henry Brooke and Raju Bhatt have cogently added their voices to the clamour against the Grayling proposals HERE and HERE.

How many more are needed before Mr Grayling sees sense?
10.     Sir Henry Brooke reminds us of Sir John Thomas’s quite brilliant
          protection of the Court system.

Sir Henry Brooke has emerged as a twitter force to be reckoned with. Kindly he has posted this lecture given by Sir John Thomas some 9 years ago. As relevant now as it was then. Well worth a read HERE.
11.     G4S withdraws from tagging contract
G4S have withdrawn from bidding for the new round of tagging contract HERE. Will this mean that Mr Grayling will now turn away from seeking to recoup the overcharged millions and the SFO investigation into potential massive fraud? We will have to watch very closely.
12.     CBA Credit Cards coming your way
In order to help you access the CBA website we will be issuing credit card membership cards in September. Here is a foretaste. Never again will you have to pester Aaron for your membership details.

13.     Stuart Wilde helps your Chairman to interpret some troubling dreams
In recent weeks I have been having a mixture of sweet dreams and nightmares. In an effort to make sense of them I turned to Stuart Wilde who I was assured had a PHD in Sigmund Freud. His work is troubling indeed and I am told is an indicator of what this job can do to you. I am advised that very long term therapy will be needed for years to come.

Do Right, Fear No One
Michael (Bloody) Turner 

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