The Law Society has backed calls for the abolition of low-level criminal laws in favour of civil penalties.
The Law Commission has today released a consultation paper saying criminal sanctions should only be used to tackle serious wrongdoings and calling for civil penalties to be used more widely for minor breaches.
Earlier this year the Law Society called for a more cautious and structured approach to extending and reforming the criminal law code.
“This expansion of criminal law in recent years has criminalised an increased proportion of the population and further disrupted the balance between the power of the State and the freedom of the individual. ”
– Linda Lee
President of the Law Society Linda Lee said:
“In recent years, the UK criminal justice system has been subject to a constant barrage of new legislation and offences.
“Those dealing with criminal cases day in and day out, including our police force, are overwhelmed and overstretched by a constantly changing criminal code.
“This expansion of criminal law in recent years has criminalised an increased proportion of the population and further disrupted the balance between the power of the State and the freedom of the individual.
“In most cases, a civil penalty may be more easily enforced and act as a better deterrent than using the full force of a prosecution for a criminal offence.
“High level breaches of criminal law must still be prosecuted and defendants should always have the right to a fair trial.
“The Law Society looks forward to working closely with the Law Commission to ensure that any suggested reforms are in the best interests of the community.”