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Thursday 08 August 2019

British public asks Boris Johnson to answer Manifesto for Justice's demands

Michael Tubi / Shutterstock.com

Almost 900 members of the public have written to Boris Johnson off the back of the FDA’s Manifesto for Justice campaign.

These messages urge the new Prime Minister to take urgent action and fix the problems plaguing England and Wales’s Criminal Justice System. Specifically, they call for the four key demands of the Manifesto:

  • A properly resourced Crown Prosecution Service (CPS);
  • A halt to legal aid cuts;
  • Investment in digital disclosure; and
  • Competitive pay and fees for criminal lawyers, to better recruit and retain these professionals.

This is the latest development in the trade union’s campaign, which has been endorsed by both the Bar Council and the Law Society. As the only union to represent lawyers in CPS, FDA National Officer Steven Littlewood argues the union has special insight into the problems facing criminal justice.

Cuts ushered in by austerity economics, and an explosion of digital evidence in recent years, has left the system under significant pressure.

The FDA originally asked the public to email both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt when they were battling for the premiership. Individuals wrote to both prime ministerial candidates, asking them to put justice on the agenda.

Even after the contest finished, more people sent messages, demanding that UK justice is saved. As Littlewood explained “the FDA was determined that Johnson should receive every single one.”

“Boris Johnson has entered No 10 with some big promises,” Littlewood said, “but he has failed to address the very real erosion of our Criminal Justice System. He's said he will recruit 20,000 police officers. He wants to appear tough on crime. Say these officers arrest more individuals: without new prosecutors and defence lawyers, who will charge them? How will suspects be found innocent or guilty? How will justice be done?

"For too long, the state of criminal justice in this country has been swept under the carpet. The Government believed the public wouldn't fight for it. But these letters prove that they will."

The FDA continues to run its Petition for Justice, which asks the Chancellor of the Exchequer to provide the funds to make the Manifesto’s demands a reality.

“We will keep speaking to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Government about these issues,” Littlewood said. “We won’t stop until we can be sure that justice will be a thing of the future, not just the past.”

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