Suffolk/Essex: Justice Secretary Chris Grayling visits region to welcome fall in crime

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling on his visit to Ipswich Crown Court.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling on his visit to Ipswich Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

FEWER cases are being heard at courts in Suffolk – and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is delighted!

The head of the justice system visited the region yesterday to see the sharp end – going to Warren Hill young offenders’ institution at Hollesley, Ipswich Crown Court, and the military corrective centre at Colchester.

During his visit to Ipswich crown court, Mr Grayling welcomed the fact that only three out of the complex’s five courtrooms were currently being used.

He said: “That is because the crime rate is falling and there are fewer offenders coming through the system – that is certainly to be welcomed.”

He insisted the reduction in cases was not linked to an increase in the number of offenders given cautions.

“Since the current government took power, the number of cautions has fallen and continues to fall – it is a matter for the police but they are aware they have to be able to justify their decisions,” he said.

Mr Grayling defended changes to the legal aid system, saying his department had to take its fair share of austerity measures alongside all other areas of government.

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He was reluctant to be drawn into criticisms of individual cases – when asked whether he felt it was right that a man should be given a suspended prison sentence for “glassing” a friend in a pub brawl on the same day that Chris Huhne and Vicki Pryce were imprisoned, Mr Grayling said perjury was a very serious offence that almost always resulted in jail.

“I was not there to hear the case, and I’m sure the judge in the assault case carefully considered all the evidence.

“The important thing is that the case got to court and was properly dealt with.”

Mr Grayling also expressed his sympathy for the families of Emma Harold and Kate Wasyluk who died after being hit by a car driven by Scott Nicholls in February 2009.

He said the government had increased the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving to 14 years and was writing to judges to urge them to consider passing the maximum sentence more often.

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