OPINION - The Standard View: The justice system is failing Londoners at their time of greatest need

Metropolitan Police chief Sir Mark Rowley defended the action taken by his officers on Saturday (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)
Metropolitan Police chief Sir Mark Rowley defended the action taken by his officers on Saturday (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

Britain’s justice system is on red alert. Today the Met Commissioner criticised the Crown Prosecution Service, accusing it of failing victims of crime by “cherry-picking” cases to artificially enhance conviction rates.

Sir Mark Rowley told the Evening Standard about his view that prosecutors “are not taking on the harder cases”. The data appears to back him up. Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that prosecutions in England and Wales in the 12 months to the end of September last year were down 16 per cent on the comparable pre-Covid figure, despite a 14 per cent rise in recorded crime.

Of course, Sir Mark faces many of his own challenges trying to drive through reforms at the Met which are desperately needed. But his views on this matter should be listened to. The risk of any cherry-picking of cases is that a whole slew of victims of crime are effectively cut out of the justice system, because it is simply harder to gather evidence, prosecute and secure conviction.

Sir Mark’s comments come only a month after this newspaper revealed the pressure on London’s justice system, with victims, defendants and witnesses regularly facing delays stretching for years as a result of backlogs in our courts. One thing is clear — many Londoners continue to be failed at their time of greatest need.

Vauxhall warning

Another week, another news story about how Brexit is suffocating the economy. The owner of car manufacturer Vauxhall warned that the sector faces an “existential threat” and that without changes to the Trade and Co-operation Agreement with the EU, it cannot commit to manufacturing electric vehicles in the UK.

The issue relates to rules of origin, which may result in tariffs that make car production in the UK uncompetitive compared to the EU, Japan or South Korea.

This development marries two issues in which Britain is flagging — the impact of trade friction, now that we have left the single market and customs union, and the lack of homegrown battery manufacturing capability.

This represents an existential threat to the UK automotive sector. The Prime Minister, who enthusiastically backed Brexit, must intensify co-operation and the thawing of relations with Europe to ensure our car industry, hitherto a great British success story, can still thrive.

Power of UK fashion

Proof, if we ever needed it, that fashion makes money comes with the publication of Burberry’s annual results. Part of its record-breaking profits is down to the introduction of a twist on the company’s classic trench coat, in plastic, which shoppers can’t get enough of.

It was, in fact, London’s own Mary Quant who introduced the plastic raincoat; Burberry’s trench coat takes this genius idea that bit further. Another example of the power of our fashion industry.