More funding needed to safeguard criminal justice

Solicitors’ leaders are calling on the UK government to take the extra steps needed to safeguard the future of the criminal defence profession and the criminal justice system.

A statutory instrument was laid in Parliament today (20 July) which confirms that criminal defence solicitors will start receiving some long fought-for increases in criminal legal aid rates from the end of September.

But the overall package for solicitors still amounts to a 9% increase, not the 15% rise that the Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid recommended was the bare minimum required.

“It is positive to see some of the criminal legal aid rate increases for solicitors locked in,” said Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce.

“But the overall package for solicitors still only amounts to a 9% rise. This must be the foundation for further increases not the ceiling.

“The criminal justice system is in crisis. The courts are crumbling, there aren’t enough judges and lawyers, and victims and defendants are facing unacceptable delays in accessing justice.

“This is a make-or-break moment for the criminal defence profession and the criminal justice system. The time to act is now, before it is too late.

“We are disappointed that the government has ruled out any increase in fees for prison law work, despite the review recommending a 15% rise. Parole hearings are a vital part of the criminal justice system and solicitors play a key role in ensuring they run efficiently, and prisoners’ cases are presented properly.”

Notes to editors

See the government release

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