Criminal negligence

Think tank: Adam Smith Institute

Author(s): Tim Ambler

August 12, 2022

This report from UK think tank the Adam Smith Institute looks at reforming the Ministry of Justice.

This report proposes a number of reforms to improve the efficiency and value for money of the Ministry of Justice. This paper is part of the Adam Smith Institute’s “Reforming the Civil Service” series. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has responsibility for a number of functions that are currently performed inefficiently and represent poor value for taxpayer money; There are more civil servants working for the Ministry of Justice than there are prison inmates in England and Wales; Blair-era reforms should be continued to their logical conclusion, namely the complete separation of the judiciary and the executive; The roles of Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary should be separated, with the former ceasing to be part of government, while remaining in the House of Lords and a member of parliamentary committees dealing with judicial matters, such as its share of the Consolidated Fund; New judges should be nominated by parliament, not government and parliament should ensure the judiciary’s share of the Consolidated Fund is adequate; The MoJ’s courtroom elements should be transferred to the judiciary, with the associated MoJ staff thereby becoming public rather than civil servants; By moving (over a period of ten years) to the Scandinavian model of criminal justice, the vast majority of prisons could be closed and their prisoners could become trainees for their return to law-abiding society; Rehabilitation would take priority over punishment but the latter would remain in the form of removing liberty by means of electronic tagging; Trainees would be allocated to trainers in small groups; Transition should be managed in waves by a small transition team; Remaining traditional prisons should be prepared for the new vision with greater resources funded by the savings in shifting earlier cohorts to the new regime; Other MoJ functions (such as the Office of the Public Guardian and Independent Monitoring Authority) should be privatised or transferred away from the department; Without its two main roles of supporting the judiciary and managing the prisons and probate services, the 6,330 core MoJ staff should be reduced to 800; Taken together, the recommendations in this report would reduce the civil servant headcount by 87,781; Some 28,172 of the reduction, however, would simply be reclassification as public servants.