Leveson proposes sweeping efficiency reforms for justice system

Greater use of technology, shorter speeches by barristers and a stronger focus on pre-trial preparation are among the key suggestions of Sir Brian Leveson, who was commissioned by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, to report on how to improve the efficiency of courts.

Leveson said: “The changes I have recommended are all designed to streamline the way the investigation and prosecution of crime is approached without ever losing sight of the interests of justice. Our conduct of criminal trials was designed in the 19th century with many changes and reforms bolted on, especially over the last 30 years. The result is that it has become inefficient, time-consuming and, as a result, very expensive.”

More flexible opening hours for magistrates courts should be examined, Leveson’s review said: “This must be one of the few public services which [has] failed to acknowledge the different ways that members of the public now live their lives. We ought to establish the extent to which victims and witnesses will benefit from a more flexible approach to the hours that our courts sit.”

The review also supports greater use of video and conferencing technology to enable suspects to appear from prisons and police stations remotely, as well as video cameras mounted on police officers’ bodies or helmets.