NewsBites - May 2011

Tribunals update

The Tribunals Service is coping with the demands of an increased workload. In the 11 months up to February 2011, it received a quarter more appeals than in the previous 11 months, but cleared 36 per cent more, according to the latest statistics.

In February 2011, it dealt with more social security and child support claims than it received for the second month running. In three of the last four months it disposed of more employment support allowance and incapacity benefit cases than it received.

London Legal Walk 2011

The London Legal Support Trust is inviting all who can make it to join in with its seventh London Legal sponsored walk on 16 May. The 10km walk starts at the Royal Courts of Justice at 5.30pm, and takes walkers in a loop out to the Serpentine in Hyde Park and back to the Law Society. Funds raised will assist legal advice centres in and around London. To enter, please e-mail chair@londonlegalsupporttrust.org.uk.

Standards matter

The Ministry of Justice has published revised Probation National Standards, which will be implemented over the next year. The revisions aim to cut red tape, eliminate box-ticking, remove unnecessary tasks and allow frontline probation staff to manage their work with offenders as the risks of each case demands.

Prisons Ombudsman

Nigel Newcomen, currently HM Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons, has been selected as the new Prisons and Probation Ombudsman. The Ombudsman provides independent adjudication of complaints from prisoners and immigration detainees. He reports to the Justice Secretary on prisons and to the Home Secretary on immigration.

A Bar first

Sentencing policy was put under the spotlight at last month’s inaugural “Bar Debate” at the Old Bailey. A high-profile panel and invited audience took part in a lively debate on the theme of “Bang ‘em up Britain: Are we taking a rational approach to sentencing policy?”
The bi-annual debates aim to provide a platform to discuss important issues relating to law and justice. Peter Lodder QC, chairman of the Bar, said: “There could be no better place to discuss penal policy than the courtroom in which some of this country’s most notorious criminals, including Dr Crippen, the Yorkshire Ripper and Ruth Ellis were sentenced (see pp 5 & 12).
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