Opinion Former Article

Government trying to deliver justice 'on the cheap'

Government trying to deliver justice 'on the cheap'

Cuts of more than 25% in the criminal justice system means the government is trying to deliver "justice on the cheap", the Public and Commercial Services union says.

The union would welcome proposals to reduce the prison population, genuinely support rehabilitation, and improve how we deal with people with mental health problems and drug and alcohol issues.

But the union says the government's so-called 'rehabilitation revolution' is being led by an ideological drive to cut jobs and privatise more services to the highest bidder.

The union is also concerned that cutting £350 million from the £914 million annual civil and family legal aid budget by 2014 will have a devastating impact, hitting one in four of those who seek civil legal aid.

Similarly, the closure of 93 magistrates' courts and 42 crown courts will lead to hundreds of job losses and backlogs in the court process, making local justice less accessible.

With spending cuts halting any signs of economic growth, an efficient, accessible, reliable and publicly run justice system is more important than ever, the union says.

The union is currently preparing for a national strike of its 250,000 public sector members on 30 June in a dispute over cuts to jobs, pay and pensions. The strike is being co-ordinated with the National Union of Teachers, Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the University and College Union.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Hacking away at our justice system, instead of investing and providing proper resources, will only damage our social fabric and add to society's problems.

"Simply hoping that people will be able to fend for themselves is not the mark of a caring society. We should be improving people's chances of accessing reliable local services, not making it more difficult and trying to provide justice on the cheap."

ENDS

Notes

- For information and interview requests contact PCS national press officer Richard Simcox on 020 7801 2747 or 07833 978216

- The Public and Commercial Services union represents civil and public servants in central government. It has more than 300,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies, and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK's sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich - on Twitter @janicegodrich

- Follow PCS on Twitter @pcs_union

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