18 December 2017
The Home Affairs Minister, Deputy Kristina Moore, has published a report summarising the response to the public consultation on the proposed new Criminal Justice Law. Many of the points that were raised during the consultation are reflected in the final law, which was lodged last week and is due for debate in January 2018.
Review of draft legislation on new criminal procedure
The consultation, which ran from 24 July to 15 September 2017, asked Islanders to comment on the significant changes that the law will make to Jersey’s criminal justice system. This was the final phase in a five-year process of legislative development and review, which incorporated input from the Attorney General, the Island’s judges and legal practitioners, and groups representing victims.
The consultation highlighted the following issues
- Changes will be made to eligibility for jury service, together with new rules for the operation of juries.
- New rules will be set out on what the prosecution and defence must disclose to the court and to each other. More information will have to be exchanged at the early stages of criminal proceedings, which should make trials simpler and easier to manage. This, in turn, will give people faster access to justice.
- There will be changes to the rules on ‘compellability’ of spouses and civil partners, which will mean that, in certain serious offences, they can be required to give evidence against their partner.
- Courts will have new, clearer and more protective rules on when to take ‘special measures’ to protect victims and witnesses from fear, distress or harm. This means that children and vulnerable people will have more certainty about protections, such as giving video evidence or evidence from behind a screen.
- New rules will remove some restrictions on the admissibility of ‘hearsay’ and ‘bad character’ evidence.
The new law will allow trials to be conducted more effectively, while offering the kind of modern protective system that victims and witnesses rightly expect. The principle is that, if victims and witnesses are treated with humanity and care, they will be more likely to engage with the criminal justice process, which will lead to a more just and safer society.