Star comment: Welcome changes to make our courts more efficient and accountable

The British justice system has always been cloaked in mystery.

Unless you are an offender or work within it, the only glimpses regular citizens get of it in action are through the media, or through being called up as a jury member. That is why the opening up of elements of it are a positive development.

Anyone who has watched BBC’s ongoing documentary Parole will have seen the decision-making process of determining if a prisoner is fit to be allowed to go free. It is never a simple calculation and often involves individuals who have carried out very serious and disturbing crimes. The programme illustrates the painstaking process and restores our faith that those very difficult decisions are taken very seriously.

Today the headlines are about notorious prisoner Charles Bronson, who is clearly enjoying the chance to have his parole hearing in public.

Again, this is a positive move. It allows the process to be followed and the subsequent decision understood.

We do not want to go down the American route of open justice, played out on live TV. But parole hearings in public and the limited televising of a judge’s comments on sentencing are a good way of using the media to make the justice system more understandable. It is good to see justice being done.

Of course, while transparency is welcome, it is also necessary that our courts are adequately funded. Justice is being delayed too often as trials take too long to reach courts at a time when many buildings have been closed. We need to improve the efficiency and productivity of our courts, while allowing their workings to be transparent, effective and accountable.


Sir David Attenborough has been around the world several times and filmed with weird and wonderful creatures. His latest adventure at the age of 96 is around the British isles, and he is as excited as ever.

As an island nation, we live in an incredibly diverse country yet we often take it all for granted. It falls to such figures as Sir David to remind us how fortunate we are, and to remind us of our own responsibilities to the remarkable wildlife that we enjoy.

The world is increasingly imperilled as global warming brings about a catastrophic breakdown in nature. Through the eyes of such well-respected and revered experts as Sir David, we can begin to understand the damage done. He may inspire many to take action and to seek change, rather than forcing nature to pay an unsustainably heavy price. When Sir David speaks, the world listens.

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