Merseyside Criminal Justice Board

As Commissioner, one of Jane's wider responsibilities includes overseeing and working with criminal justice partners to ensure an efficient and effective criminal justice system for Merseyside.

In order to help fulfil these duties, she joined and was elected chair of the Merseyside Criminal Justice Board (MCJB) at her first meeting in March 2013.

The MCJB is unique as it brings together criminal justice agencies on Merseyside with a view to joining up criminal justice processes across a range of areas.

Membership is as follows:

  • Merseyside Police & Crime Commissioner
  • Merseyside Police
  • Crown Prosecution Service
  • Her Majesty’s Court & Tribunal Service
  • Merseyside Probation Trust
  • Her Majesty’s Prison Service
  • Youth Offending Teams
  • Legal Aid Agency
  • Local Authorities

The Board has an agreed vision which states:

"In partnership provide a fair, efficient and effective Criminal Justice System, which reduces crime and re-offending and focuses on the needs of victims and witnesses."

As an established and experienced body the MCJB provides the Commissioner with an ideal forum to discuss criminal justice issues with officers at an appropriate level. The Board provides the Commissioner with the opportunity to hear about issues or blockages within the criminal justice system and consider and recommend remedies with partners to such issues.

By working together the Board, Jane has successfully agreed pan-Merseyside strategies that help to ensure a consistent, efficient and effective approach to a range of issues including domestic violence and reducing reoffending.

Notable achievements 15/16

  • Successfully implemented the Merseyside Special Domestic Violence Court in the Queen Elizabeth II Law Courts. This court now deals with all first appearance of domestic violence cases with specialist staff dedicated from all the Criminal Justice Agencies. This has led to successful outcomes at court in excess of 80% of cases. Its conviction rates are within the top 10 in the country.
  • Rape conviction rates are now in excess of 60%.
  • This year, the Board has seen the number of first-time entrants into the Criminal Justice System down by a further 50%.
  • Helped to reduce the detention of youths in police premises. The number of young people refused bail is down to less than five per month and there are less than 15 young people kept overnight each month
  • Pioneering the creation of a Harmful Practices group and developing  an action plan for its future work.
  • Successfully implementing  a Criminal Justice Efficiency program. This means all courts have In-Court Presentation IT which enables all  parties to present evidence electronically to the court and each other in real time. All Courts also now have WiFi allowing all business users to access their home systems and negate the needs for paper. This has increased speed and efficiency. This program has also included the introduction of the Magistrates Court N]Bench Solution to allow Magistrates to views files and evidence via tablets which they can take to the deliberations rooms with them. It has also seen the introduction of Livelinks to allow witnesses to give evidence from remote locations.
  • Better use of Prison Court Video Links, thereby reducing the costs of transferring prisoners to and from court. Merseyside now has one of the highest user rates in the country.
  • Hate Crime Outcomes conviction rates are now in excess of 80%.
  • Merseyside has also been chosen as one of the pilot forces for the Common Platform Programme, a system to all allow all agencies and the defence to access files subject to access control  and transfer these from police to CPS to the court, from one court to another plus the defence and probation and YOT services
  • Introduced a single justice procedure whereby a Single Magistrate and Legal Advisor can deal with low-level cases electronically.
  • The MCJB is also in the process of introducing the Plea on Line System whereby defendants can make a plea on line for low level motoring cases without the need to attend court

Notable achievements 14/15

  • Implementation of the Ministry of Justice’s inter-agency Sexual Harm Reduction Group to better meet the needs of victims of sexual offences.
  • Successfully implemented the Criminal Justice Efficiency Programme which includes:
  1. Introducing WiFi in courts to ensure swift access to prosecutor and defence home systems and speedily share information to help reduce delays in court
  2. Developing the Case Management Store within the courts so that files are not misplaced and are easily retrievable.
  3. Piloting the use of tablet computers by juries in crown court cases.
  4. Implementing ‘Livelinks’ to enable officers and eventually civilian witnesses to provide evidence locally rather than at court. This saves police time and increases witness confidence in giving evidence.
  5. Implementing police led prosecutions for traffic offences.
  6. Implementing centralised weekend and remand courts thereby saving money.
  7. Completed the Section 28 pilot to support vulnerable witnesses providing them with an opportunity to be cross examined on video and thereby reducing the need for such witnesses to attend court and making the process less stressful.
  • Further reduced the number of first time entrants into the criminal justice system on Merseyside.
  • Reduced the detention of young people in police premises by developing a protocol between Merseyside Police and local authorities.
  • Put into place a protocol to effectively reduce the criminalisation of Looked After Children.
  • Developed Operation Highpoint to proactively address the damaging behaviours of repeat and serial Domestic Abuse perpetrators.
  • Met with key stakeholders to develop a plan to address Harmful Practices on Merseyside and support victims.
  • Carried out extensive work on a hate crime strategy launched in August 2014.

Notable achievements 2013/14

  • Successfully piloting dedicated domestic violence courts in Knowsley and Liverpool. These courts are aimed at helping victims of domestic violence by providing dedicated, specialist support to help people through what can potentially be a difficult time;
  • Strengthening links with the health sector by working with a representative for Merseyside’s clinical commissioning groups. This helps to ensure crime and health issues are viewed as a whole, whether it is the health and well-being of victims of crime in recovering from their experiences, meeting the needs of mental health detainees in custody or tackling the health aspects of offender rehabilitation. These links will help to inform decision-making and co-commissioning and raise awareness of the links between health and crime;
  • Exploring restorative justice practices on Merseyside by establishing a specialist steering group. Partners have looked at strengthening training of restorative justice practitioners to ensure victims of crime who do want to take part in these types of activities are well prepared and sufficiently protected;
  • Monitoring of the Victim’s Code across Merseyside’s criminal justice agencies. The Board has assisted partners in monitoring their compliance with the new Victim’s Code, launched in December 2013. The Code ensures that victims of the most serious crimes, persistently targeted victims and all vulnerable and intimidated victims have access to vital services, like pre-trial therapy and counselling.
  • Creating a pan-Merseyside Reducing Domestic Violence and Abuse Partnership Strategy which was launched at a Domestic Violence Summit in November 2013;

The MCJB also has links to Community Safety Partnerships, health services and voluntary agencies supporting the criminal justice system. It also has a range of sub-groups which are focused on specific issues.

Among those sub-group, is a group dedicated to raising awareness of and tackling hate crime. The hate crime sub-group is notified of events that are being held across the region to increase understanding, improve community cohesion and take a stand against hate crime. You can access a list of all these events here.