No they shouldn’t, because of the huge implications for the individuals involved, and the cost to the state. We’re seeing data suggesting that crime rates have increased, but clear up and detection rates do not necessarily equate to conviction or even prosecution. It also shows that legal aid spend is not affected by the increase in crime, because the number of cases requiring legal aid has been reduced. This can only be explained by fewer arrests and fewer cases being brought before the courts.
Also, we’ve seen an increase in something called fast-track justice, where the CPS and courts are encouraged to process cases as quickly as possible.
Many of us have grown up with the belief that if someone has an allegation made against them, and appears before the court, then they know the case against them, and they will be properly be advised as to whether they should please guilty, or not guilty.
The mentality at the moment is that people should know if they’re guilty or not. Therefore, they should plead guilty if they did it, and not guilty if they didn’t, and they don't need to be shown the case against them.
“The mentality at the moment is that people should know if they’re guilty or not. Therefore, they don't need to be shown the case against them.”
What that doesn't really address is the complexity of the legal system. In the same way that I’m not a doctor and I can’t diagnose myself, just because you were party to an incident doesn't mean you were guilty, or whether you would automatically know if you were guilty, or what you’re guilty of. The problem is that the government seem to think that fast track justice is king. What they don't realise is that undoing the mess as a result of this fast-track justice is very dangerous.
Let’s say a university student is found with two bags of weed on him. He’s taken to a police station, they interview him with no solicitor. He says he might have shared some of the weed with his mate. He’s charged with possession with intent to supply Class B drugs. He appears before the court. A lawyer he’s never met before says ‘You made an admission’. The court pressures him to plead guilty. In fact, both of bags of weed were for personal use. He gets convicted. He’s got a conviction for supplying drugs. The rest of his life is screwed. He may be unemployable. That leads to an even greater burden on the state, and can spiral for the individual. If he’d been properly advised he might have just been cautioned. That’s the danger of fast-track justice. People are harried into making snap decisions and plead guilty when there is so much more at stake.