Dealing with criminal cases in ‘hours and days’ could become ‘the norm’ under government plans announced today. Policing and criminal justice minister Nick Herbert published a white paper detailing proposals designed to speed up cases in the criminal justice system. Extended court sittings, increased use of video technology, and single magistrates sitting in community centres or police stations are among the measures outlined. Building on responses adopted during last year’s summer riots, the government plans to trial more flexible court opening hours, including the introduction of Sunday sittings, and early morning and evening sittings. The white paper also suggests enabling local communities to deal with anti-social behaviour and low-level offending through neighbourhood justice panels in 15 areas across the country. These will use community representatives and restorative justice techniques in a bid to tackle problems early and prevent them escalating. Herbert said: ‘During last year’s riots, we saw cases that normally take weeks and months being dealt with in just hours and days. We want this to become the norm, not the exception. ‘The criminal justice system must be more transparent and accountable to the local communities it services, so we are opening up the justice system and involving communities directly in resolving problem behaviour and low-level crimes.’ Richard Atkinson, chair of the Law Society Criminal Law Committee, voiced scepticism about the proposals. He said: ‘The Society has been at the forefront of urging improvements to the criminal justice system and we published our own proposals for this last year. We would support changes where they are appropriate. For example there is potential for there to be efficiency improvements arising from the increased use of prison to court video links. However, we are concerned by the government’s obsession with speed and its apparent belief that speed and efficiency is one and the same thing. In particular, we question whether there is any need for weekend courts at a time when the numbers of criminal cases are declining and when these proposals will cause problems for prisons and the availability of other professionals in the system. There will be significant costs at a time the government says there is no more money, including for defence practitioners who are mostly small businesses and do not have the same flexibility as large employers, such as the Crown Prosecution Service and the court service. ‘The fact that there has been no adequate consultation and discussion with defence practitioners about the proposals suggests that, yet again, government is ignoring the only people in the system who see cases through from start to finish. We are keen to discuss these with government, but it is mistaken if it believes that these changes can be achieved in a way which is cost-neutral and it is disappointing that it has not taken the opportunity to look at other improvements which are likely to have a much greater effect on efficiency than a headline-grabbing initiative on court sittings.’ Max Hill QC, Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), warned that cost-cutting must not stand in the way of justice. He said: ‘The Criminal Bar Association endorses the government’s view that the criminal courts need to become more efficient, and we welcome many of the proposals contained within this white paper, but others risk undermining justice and due process. ‘We are particularly concerned about the increased presumption that cases will be run in the Magistrates’ Courts based purely on the financial value of the case. This is a blunt instrument which may not properly reflect the severity of the offence, and demonstrates the government’s commitment to cheap justice. ‘We cautiously welcome efforts to increase transparency by allowing cameras into courtrooms for sentencing remarks. This must, however, be carefully monitored to ensure that tight judicial scrutiny is maintained and that the parties in the case are consenting. ‘Late and weekend court sittings enabled the criminal justice system to manage its vastly increased workload following the summer riots, but longer hours are not the answer to inefficiency. They place a strain on the courts and on court workers, and may lead to delays and poor outcomes.’ Meanwhile, as the government proposes extending court sittings, the Ministry of Justice’s annual report showed that HM Courts and Tribunal Service has culled its staff by more than 1,000 over the last year. Published this week, the report shows that permanent staff numbers at HMCTS fell from 20,778 to 19,655. The full details of the government’s ‘Swift and Sure Justice’ proposals, can be found on the MoJ website.
When they are watching this game, the lovable loser they should be focused on is the 49ers. Do they have all the big names, and the flashy sophomore quarterback? No, they don’t. What they do have, is an exceptional head coach and a team full of names that you might not know are uber talented. I think everyone is sleeping on this team.I picked them to make the playoffs before the season started and, in order for them to do that, they win games like this one on Monday night.NFL pick: San Francisco 49ers -4 @ -105 Are the Browns a playoff team?That is a question that is too hard to answer at the moment. However, I shade my answer to “no.” I was lower on them coming into the year than the rest of the world and their Super Bowl champion fever. I decided to pump the brakes and make them prove they can finish above .500 before I made them AFC champions. So, what is this team after the first month of the season? They are a 2-2 football team that is tied for the lead in the AFC North. Winning as much as you lose is not impressive to me, granted it’s a small sample size. MORE: Get the latest NFL odds & betting advice at Sportsbook ReviewThe strength of this team is the defense. We knew coming into the season this would be the case and so far that opinion has held. They are currently ranked eighth in defensive DVOA, which is one of the better analytical ratings to gauge a team’s overall offense or defense. The defense is stacked with talent which should be what guides this team should they make the playoffs. On the other side of the ball, the offense has had a bit of a rocky start. This is an offensive that has a ridiculous amount of talent at skill positions. It is not a stretch to say the best skill position players in the league and worthy of an NFL pick. QB Baker Mayfield has struggled a bit this year, call it the sophomore slump. He looked more dynamic and accurate in his breakout rookie season. This team’s success in the end, is predicated on how well he plays this year. This week the Browns play a 49ers team that has gotten out to a fast start. Can Baker Mayfield lead this team to a win on Monday night?Are the 49ers as good as their 3-0 start indicates?It’s too early to answer that question. I have a season win total over ticket in my pocket for the 49ers, so I was a believer of this team going into the year. The analytics love this team. They are currently ranked 2nd in defense and 6th in offensive DVOA. That is really good for a team that had a ton of questions surrounding them coming into the 2019 season. What has been most impressive about this team through the first month of the season, has been the average play of Jimmy G. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has just 739 yards with 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions through the first month of the season. That is a disappointing start for him considering how good I believe him to be.MORE: Full betting preview for 49ers vs. BrownsEven with the average play of Jimmy G, the 49ers are still a top-10 offense. The passing game might be average thus far, but the two headed monster of Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert running the football has been effective against opposing defenses. Those two running backs combined with weapons like TE George Kittle, among others, put this team in a position to start the year 4-0 for the first time in a while.But the defense has been the story for this team so far. I didn’t see any prognosticators waxing poetic about how the San Francisco 49ers would have a top-three defense this season. Will it hold up? Probably not; I don’t think they will finish the season second in DVOA. That is a really tough ask. They don’t have to, though. If Garoppolo can put the issues he has had this season behind him, all they need is a top-10 defense to go on a run. Will we see the 49ers make the playoffs?Browns vs. 49ers predictionThe eyes of the sports world will be on this game this week. The entire country has fallen in love with the Browns because they love an underdog story, and they think this team is better than I do. Cleveland Browns vs. San Francisco 49ers betting guideMonday, Oct. 7, 2019 — 8:15 p.m. ETOpening line: San Francisco -3 (-119)