Bringing Swift and Certain Justice to the UK

We need to start by asking why the wheels of justice grind so slowly. One study of magistrates’ courts showed that cases took an average of 15 weeks from start to finish, yet involved only six hours of actual work. Fewer than half of all trials go ahead on the scheduled date. What would happen if airlines were run like that?

So writes Nick Herbert, MP, UK Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice and a rising star in public policy circles. Swift and certain justice is fairer to crime victims. And as research on programmes such as HOPE Probation and 24/7 Sobriety shows, it’s also better for offenders.

But getting it done in practice is going to be a challenge in the UK’s leisurely-paced court system. I am happy that 24/7 Sobriety is now part of the UK’s legal structure, but if isn’t implemented with swift, certain and modest sanctions for infractions, it might as well not be tried at all.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College Lonon. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over ten thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

One thought on “Bringing Swift and Certain Justice to the UK”

  1. So do cases take so long because people are lazy, or because they’re overcommitted?

    (And, as a matter of fact, airlines are run like that: one busted seatback tray on the 6AM flight out of Wichita, or a thunderstorm over Chicago and thousands or tens of thousands of passengers will see their flights delayed for hours or even cancelled. It would be even worse if a flight couldn’t go until everyone booked on it had appeared at the gate.)

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