Home Secretary Theresa May wrote a letter to the College of Policing proposing that suspects should have a “right to anonymity” when arrested, but that they should be named if and when they are charged with an offence. She believes that “the refusal of some police forces to name suspects who have been charged undermines transparency in the criminal justice system and risks the possibility that witnesses and other victims might not come forward”. A survey by the Daily Mail has revealed that 14 out of 43 constabularies in England and Wales will not name suspects when they are charged with a crime. David Cameron has spoken out in support of Theresa May’s stance. 

According to a survey undertaken by Professor Cheryl Thomas at the University College London law faculty, almost a quarter of jurors in England and Wales misunderstand the restrictions placed on internet use during a trial. Of the jurors questioned, 5% believe there are no restrictions at all, while 16% believe that they are restricted from even checking emails whilst a trial is ongoing.  A staggering 82% said they would have liked more guidance on how to conduct their deliberations.

The Ministry of Justice proposed a fresh round of cuts to the government’s annual £50m legal aid bill for expert witnesses in family courts. The Ministry of Justice claims that the cuts will “get rid of time-consuming evidence which adds little value in helping judges reach a decision”. It was found in a departmental review of case files that experts feature in almost 90% of cases and nearly one in 10 cases involves seven or more expert reports.

Nicol J, sitting in the High Court, held that Goldman Sachs’ “sweetheart deal” with the UK government did not break law in the UK. The deal took place in November 2010 following a long-running dispute over national insurance contribution payments dating back to the 1990s. Campaign group UK Uncut Legal Action asked the High Court to declare that the settlement, which is thought to have saved Goldman Sachs almost £20 million, was unlawful as it believed the settlement represented a “package deal“. Nicol J stated that the deal was “not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue” but that HMRC had not erred in law.

The government has announced that minor traffic offences such as speeding and jumping traffic lights will be heard in designated traffic courts. The move is intended to free up magistrates courts for more serious offences and ensure that minor traffic offences are dealt with more efficiently. Justice minister Damian Green said “these cases take nearly six months on average from offence to completion, despite the fact that over 90% of cases result in a guilty plea or are proved in absence – this is simply unacceptable”.

Theresa May has announced that criminals who kill police officers in England and Wales will receive compulsory whole-life sentences without parole. At a Police Confederation Conference, she justified the move by saying that murders of police officers attack the “fundamental basis of our society”. The current minimum sentence for a murder of a police officer is 30 years. Under CPS guidelines, only serial killers, child murderers or those killing in the name of religion, politics or an ideological cause receive whole-life sentences. However, Theresa May stated that she is “clear – life should mean life for anyone convicted of killing a police officer”.