Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blair Forced into U-Turn on Night Courts That Are an Expensive Flop

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blair Forced into U-Turn on Night Courts That Are an Expensive Flop

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY

THE flagship scheme for allnight court sittings to combat hooliganism and drunkenness is to be scrapped after proving a costly failure.

The U-turn is an embarrassing blow to Tony Blair, who made the crackdown on "yob culture" a keynote general election pledge.

But a study into pilot schemes in London and Manchester revealed the courts were failing to deliver the hoped-for "instant justice" to the worst offenders and were costing up to 40 times as much to run as normal hearings.

The unpublishedreview by the Lord Chancellor's Department also found schemes were chaotically run, with some defendants not turning up on time and the number of offenders actually dealt with heavily outnumbered by an army of court officials paid costly overtime.

Night courts were the brainchild of Sir John Stevens, Metropolitan police commissioner, who was impressed with similar schemes in New York. The Prime Minister made them a key plank in Labour's anticrime package at the last election. …

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