"Engaging Communities in Criminal Justice"

Justice written statement – made at on 29 April 2009.

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Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, my right hon. and noble Friend the Attorney-General and I are today announcing the publication of "Engaging Communities in Criminal Justice" (Cm 7583), a consultation document which has been laid before Parliament. We are also announcing the publication of the associated consultation-stage "Impact Assessment", which has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies of both documents are available from the Vote Office, and the Printed Paper Office. Both documents will be available from the CJS Online website at: http://consultations.cjsonline.gov.uk/ and on the web sites of the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Attorney-General's Office.

Significant reform of the criminal justice system in England and Wales has already been delivered but there is more to be done. "Engaging Communities in Criminal Justice" sets out and invites views on the Government's proposals for further improvements to the design and delivery of local criminal justice services. It represents the next stage in the Government's programme for a criminal justice service that is effective, delivers justice for all, has the interests of victims and witnesses at its heart and which inspires the trust and confidence of the people it serves.

The proposals are part of a consultation and are centred on three areas: strengthening the connections between communities and their prosecution and court services; ensuring that justice outcomes are more responsive and more visible and improving communication between local people and their criminal justice services. The proposals are designed to better open up the whole justice system to communities so that services are more transparent, responsive and more accountable to local people. The Government believe that a number of measures likely to be of direct benefit to local communities could be established more quickly in a number of areas. We are therefore establishing 30 pioneer areas across England and Wales which will implement a package of measures during 2009.

The consultation-stage "Impact Assessment" sets out such evidence as is currently available in relation to the Government's proposals. It contains estimates of the actual or potential costs of the proposals and an assessment of the potential operational impact on criminal justice services and other local delivery partners, including those in the third sector. The final "Impact Assessment" will be revised and updated in light of information received during the consultation and any further available evidence from pathfinder and pilot projects. It will then be published alongside the summary of consultation responses and the Government's proposed next steps.

The Government will undertake a full equality impact assessment of the proposals in this consultation document. This will help to identify and enable the Government to reduce any unintended negative impact on individuals and particular segments of the community. The final equality impact assessment will be published.

The consultation period starts today and will close on Friday 31 July 2009. Responses to the consultation can be made using the on-line response facility at: http://consultations.cjsonline.gov.uk/?conid=1, via email to: Engagingcommunities@cjs.gsi.gov.uk or by post to the address indicated in the consultation document.