Fix the broken system – 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.
We’re calling on government to address the problems by adopting our policy recommendations on criminal justice.
Problems facing the system
Increasing shortages of criminal duty solicitors
Within five years, there could be areas in England and Wales where people who have been arrested will not be able to access a duty solicitor. This means they won’t be able to get the free legal advice they’re entitled to.
The means test for criminal legal aid is too restrictive
People on low incomes aren’t able to access legal advice, or are having to pay contributions towards it which are higher than they can afford.
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.
In May 2020, we responded to the government’s consultation on pre-charge bail, supporting the proposed model that retains the shortest of time limits in relation to pre-charge bail.
The government's reform of pre-charge bail is part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, on which we briefed parliament.
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.
All of these problems show the criminal justice system is at breaking point. Without urgent action, it will fall apart.
A journey through the broken 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.