Word on the Street: Should defendants have to declare their nationality in court?
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As of this week court defendants by law must declare their nationality - we asked people in Ipswich what they thought of the issue.
A new law requiring court defendants to declare their nationality has alarmed racial equality campaigners.
The Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality argues the requirement could damage trust in the impartiality of the system.
However, the Ministry of Justice said it would allow authorities to consider deporting foreign national criminals as quickly as possible.
Notices distributed by HM Courts and Tribunals Service insisted the new rules would have “absolutely no bearing” on how cases are dealt with.
In the case of not guilty pleas and adjournments, it said judges or magistrates dealing with the case at a later date would not be made aware of the nationality, unless it had a “direct bearing”.
There was already an obligation to confirm a defendant’s name, address and date of birth, but courts must now verify nationality at the first hearing.
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