Speak up for Justice – Not the Global Law Summit
Our justice system is under attack. The government is slashing the legal aid budget by £220m per year and implementing disastrous reforms. Seventy per cent of probation services have been privatised, courts have been closed, and policing has been cut. The prison system is also in crisis following dramatic cuts to prison officer numbers. All of this is reducing access to justice and putting public safety at risk.
On 22-25 February, the government has organised a corporate-focused event commemorating 800 years since the sealing of the Magna Carta – the Global Law Summit. While the government and big business cosy up at this “unique one-off high level business forum” to discuss investment opportunities for big business, the government has been decimating the justice system and undermining access to justice as well as attacking trade union rights.
The Speak up for Justice campaign calls for an integrated, publicly owned, accessible and accountable justice system that protects our right to justice. We also campaign against cuts to jobs and services and for a properly funded justice system. The campaign involves the TUC, FDA, GMB, Napo, PCS, POA, UNISON and Unite
We are supporting the Justice Alliance coalition’s event Not the Global Law Summit, including the Relay for Rights march from Runnymede to Westminster on 21-23 February. The event will highlight the rank hypocrisy of the government in commemorating the Magna Carta while attacking our justice system. To join us at the march or the rallies in Runnymede and London, see here for more details.
Legal aid under attack
Access to justice is a fundamental human right and access to legal aid helps ensure that justice is not the preserve of the wealthy. The government is cutting £220m a year from the legal aid budget until 2018, leaving people in need without advice and representation.
Probation under attack
The government has privatised over 70 per cent of probation services, despite the government’s own evidence acknowledging “serious failings in the new probation system”. IT systems have failed, while significant staff shortages exist leaving the remaining workforce with excessive workloads. All of this represents poor value for money for the taxpayer and a risk to public safety.
Policing under attack
The government has made swingeing cuts to police staff, with the number of PCSOs in England cut by 22 per cent between March 2010 and September 2013, and in cases volunteers carrying out the work of police staff. Plans to privatise police services will make private companies pivotal in policing and the delivery of justice, while giving them access to highly confidential personal information.
Courts under attack
The government has carried out a massive programme of court closures, with 130 courts closed so far. Since 2010, the number of number of public prosecutors has also been cut by 25 per cent. Court services have been privatised, with multinational company Capita fined over £70,000 for their failure to provide interpreters. Victims of crime, and workers who have been unfairly dismissed are experiencing justice delayed.
The prison system is under an unprecedented strain following steep budget cuts – with the loss of 25 per cent of its staff since 2010. Overcrowding of prisoners, violence against prison staff, as well as self-harm and suicide among prisoners have all risen. The government is going ahead with secretive plans to hand over a range of prison services to multinationals that have little or very poor experience in the justice system.
Attack on trade union rights
The right to join and be represented by a trade union in the workplace is a fundamental human right. Yet since 2010, the government has mounted a sustained attack on rights of working people and their union representatives, including reducing consultation on mass redundancies, limiting the rights of outsourced workers to benefit from pay and conditions negotiated by unions and cutting ‘facility’ time which union reps rely on to represent those working in the public services.
The government has also refused to launch a public inquiry into the blacklisting of union reps for raising safety and other concerns. And now the Conservative Party has promised even more punitive rules for strike ballots, in a clear attempt to wipe out democratic dissent and weaken workers’ bargaining power.