Back our criminal justice campaign
Due to many years of underinvestment our criminal justice system is crumbling.
Things are going wrong at every level and every stage. It’s become a nightmare journey through the system for the accused, for victims and for solicitors alike.
With the right reforms, we can strengthen access to justice and make sure our system works for everyone.
We’re calling on government to address the problems by:
- increasing criminal legal aid fees in line with minimum recommendations of its independent review
- increasing the means test in line with inflation
- setting up a central register of all release under investigation cases
- investing in buildings, technology and data collection to reduce the courts backlog
Problems facing the system
Increasing shortages of criminal duty solicitors
Duty solicitors in England and Wales are on call day and night to make sure people who have been arrested can get the free legal advice they’re entitled to.
But duty solicitors are being driven out of the sector.
One in four have stopped providing representation at police stations since 2017.
Law Society wins High Court battle
The High Court has ruled in the Law Society’s favour in our judicial review against the Ministry of Justice.
Evidence from our members showed “the system is slowly coming apart at the seams”. Now, the government must rethink its irrational decision on criminal legal aid funding before the system collapses.
The means test for criminal legal aid must be linked to inflationSix million more people will be eligible for free legal advice under government proposals, following our campaign.
We’re pleased the government has taken steps to widen who can qualify for legal aid, and listened to our concerns on how the original proposals would disadvantage single parents.
However, all the thresholds need to be increased regularly with inflation. Without this, the cost-of-living crisis will mean more and more people are going to fall back through the justice gap.
Leaking courtrooms, suspended repairs, missing staff and judges, and crumbling buildings all lead to cases being delayed.
Cases in court are often 'double booked', so some hearings get cancelled at the last minute. Things like this waste the accused’s and their solicitor’s time and increase costs.
Release under investigation and pre-charge bail
The use of release under investigation (RUI) has increased dramatically since changes were placed on the use of bail in 2017.
The RUI procedure has no time limit and no conditions are placed on release. This means that the accused, and victims, are left in limbo for long periods.
We're calling on the government to improve the law on pre-charge bail and release under investigation.
More and more courts are being closed
Defendants and witnesses are having to make unreasonably long and expensive journeys to court.
Crucial evidence is often not disclosed
Important evidence sometimes is not made available until the last minute, or isn’t disclosed at all. This can mean the difference between freedom and imprisonment.
A journey through the criminal justice system
Our video tells the story of Peter, who is on a night out with friends when a fight breaks out. Although he was not involved in the fight, Peter finds himself charged with affray.
It’s just the beginning of a nightmare journey through the criminal justice system.