Attorney General Patricia Scotland has called for “positive actions” to promote justice and social mobility, while hitting out at suggestions made by the Conservatives of a ’broken Britain’.
Talking to The Lawyer, Baroness Scotland highlighted the need for schemes that engage young people from non-traditional backgrounds with the law.
Last year Scotland launched the Youth Network (The Lawyer, 11 May 2009), which sees the Crown Prosecution Service deliver legal modules for secondary school pupils.
Although the programme, which Scotland said is intended to “encourage understanding of the rule of law and demystify the profession”, does not demand extra money from the taxpayer, it is uncertain whether a Conservative government would continue it.
“I’m hopeful that if we embed it, it will continue,” said Scotland. “I’ve invited the shadow cabinet to participate. This is clearly a Labour government initiative, [but] I’d hope any sensible government would continue [it].”
She emphasised that the scheme is about promoting justice and social mobility, not “dealing with naughty children”. She also rebutted the Conservative’s claim that the “criminal justice system is broken”, pointing to a reduction in the number of new entrants into the criminal justice system under Labour.
“I don’t believe those who say Britain is broken,” she asserted. “It’s offensive to the majority of people who are law-abiding.”
Scotland contended that, while she was against quotas for minorities in the profession, her controversial requirement that barristers’ sets on the Treasury panel should supply diversity statistics was an essential precursor to creating a more diverse bar.