The first item here is a widely distributed press summary of an interview Jack Straw gave to the Daily Mail. The second is the POA’s response.
Bid to 'rebalance' Human Rights Act
Justice Secretary Jack Straw has signalled he is preparing to "rebalance" the Human Rights Act amid concerns it had become a "villains charter".
Mr Straw - who introduced the act 10 years ago when he was Home Secretary - said he had become frustrated with the way that it is operating.
He suggested that the rights in the legislation - which enshrined the European Convention on Human Rights in British law - could be balanced with new "responsibilities" to obey the law and to be loyal to the country.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, he said: "In due course I could envisage that there could be additions made to work in the issues of responsibilities."
Mr Straw acknowledged there were genuine public concerns about the way the act had been used in some cases by prisoners to avoid punishment or to prevent the deportation of Islamic extremists.
He blamed "nervous" judges for refusing to accept assurances from ministers that such removals were in the national interest.
"There is a sense that it's a villains' charter or that it stops terrorists being deported or criminals being properly given publicity," he said.
"I am greatly frustrated by this, not by the concerns but by some very few judgments that have thrown up these problems."
The Mail said Mr Straw's proposals to reform the act could be a key plank of Labour's next general election strategy
DATE : 8th December 2008
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Leaders of the POA have welcomed Jack Straw the Justice Secretary plans to overhaul the Human Rights Act amidst concerns that it has become a charter for criminals.
Colin Moses National Chairman of the POA said:
“For too long prisoners have used the Human Rights Act to undermine prison staff and prevent them from fulfilling their full role. I hope that Mr Straw brings about change which will empower prison staff to fulfil their role and protect the public. Prisoners have abused the Human Rights Act and use it on a daily basis to achieve their own aims and this was not the purpose of this Act.
“Mr Straw has taken legal advice to see whether the Act can be tighten and states that he wants to rebalance the rights set out in the Human Rights Act by adding explicit responsibilities, specifically to obey the law and be loyal to the country”.
Colin Moses went on to say:
“As the prison population continues to rise we need to ensure that those sentenced by the courts for any criminal act should be treated fairly and with decency. However, they must be subject to the lawful orders which go with prison life and should not be allowed to undermine the system using the loop holes which currently exists within the Human Rights Act.”
Brian Caton General Secretary of the POA said:
“The compensation culture amongst the mainstream prison population is constantly on the increase at an unbelievable cost to the tax payer. I hope that Mr Straw takes a serious look at the way some law firms appear to exploit the Human Rights Act to gain compensation for prisoners using the Legal Aid Scheme. Justice has to be seen to be done and currently POA members and employees working in the criminal justice system are getting a raw deal”.
For further information contact:
Colin Moses – National Chairman Mobile 07971 839602
Brian Caton – General Secretary Mobile 07971 838636
Steve Gillan – Finance Officer Mobile 07971 838590
Glyn Travis – Press Officer Mobile 07968 324045
POA Press Office 020 8803 0255 Option 7