Govt to ‘rebalance’ justice system

Britain’s justice system will be rebalanced towards the law-abiding majority by the government’s new reform plan, ministers have claimed.

Justice secretary Jack Straw said his three of the 18 bills unveiled by Gordon Brown in his draft Queen’s Speech would “sharpen the focus” of the justice system and democracy on the needs of the public.

The law reform, victims and witnesses bill would increase public confidence in the criminal justice system, he said, and help protect the vulnerable by allowing increased use of video-link evidence in gun and gang-related crimes.

“Appearing in court as a victim or witness is a stressful experience. We want to make sure people in this position are given as much support as possible,” Mr Straw said.

In the coroners and death certification bill the government aims to improve the system of death investigation to reassure relatives the cause of death has been properly established and steps taken prevent future similar deaths.

“The reform of the coroners system for the families of civilian and service victims alike is very important,” the justice secretary continued.

“Our proposals for constitutional renewal will ensure that power is located where it should be on fundamental issues such as judicial appointments and committing troops to conflict: with parliament, on behalf of the people.”

Mr Straw stressed the constitutional renewal bill would make the executive more accountable and strengthen parliament.

The bill is intended at reforming the office of the attorney general and reducing the role of the lord chancellor in judicial appointments and the prime minister in appointing supreme court judges.

It will also form the first stage of a bill of rights and responsibilities.