Wednesday 11 September 2019
TUC Congress delegates have voted unanimously to support the FDA’s Manifesto for Justice campaign, and to urge the government to heed its four key demands.
The Manifesto, which was launched in May, seeks to address the problems plaguing the Criminal Justice System. Supported by the Bar Council and the Law Society, the union’s campaign recognises that this system is under-resourced, over-burdened and under enormous pressure.
The Manifesto asks the government to commit to four key demands:
i. A properly resourced CPS – to protect the public with a robust and effective prosecution service;
ii. No more cuts to legal aid – to ensure that justice is available to all;
iii. Investment in digital disclosure – to maintain public confidence in justice; and
iv. Competitive pay and fees – to recruit and retain lawyers for a sustainable criminal justice system.
The FDA brought this motion to this year’s Congress calling on the TUC to back the campaign, and lobby government to meet the Manifesto’s crucial asks.
Speaking on the FDA’s motion, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman stated that while “no area of government has been immune” to the impact of austerity, “arguably the area of public service that has suffered the largest cut in resources has been justice”.
“Former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Macdonald said that while all public services suffered from swingeing cuts, legal services were particularly targeted because it was felt the public would not defend legal services,” he continued.
Penman explained the impact cuts and an explosion of digital data has had on the Criminal Justice System, including the “legal aid deserts” identified by the Law Society (parts of England and Wales where no provision can be found) and recruitment and retention issues which have led to dwindling numbers of young lawyers – citing a Law Society study which showed that “there are counties in England and Wales where there are now no criminal duty solicitors under the age of thirty-five”.
While welcoming the £85 million cash injection promised to the CPS by Boris Johnson, the General Secretary said that the money was “a sticking plaster on a patient that needs open heart surgery”.
“20,000 new police officers might make a good headline,” he carried on, “but justice does not end at the point of arrest. Criminals need to be prosecuted, they need to have a meaningful defence. Courts need to be able to sit to try the cases.”
The motion was supported by both NPO and PCS, as delegates from both unions urged Congress to support the motion.
This motion is the latest development of the Manifesto for Justice campaign. Earlier this year, the FDA passed on almost 900 messages from members of the public calling on Prime Minister to properly resource the Criminal Justice System – a move that was followed by the announcement of additional funding.
Interested in getting involved in the campaign? Sign our Petition for Justice.