Consultation launched on police station and youth court fees
The government has today (29 January 2024) launched a consultation on proposals for the police station and youth court fee schemes.
“We have long called for increased funding for criminal defence work as solicitors continue to leave the profession in their droves because the work is not financially viable, with dire implications for access to justice,” said Law Society of England and Wales president Nick Emmerson.
“The additional money announced today still leaves the increased expenditure below that identified by Lord Bellamy as 'the minimum necessary as the first step in nursing the system of criminal legal aid back to health after years of neglect'.
"Moreover, the impact of these increases, including those announced today, has been wiped out by inflation and the current position is even more critical than the 'parlous' state he described.
“While only a small step in the right direction and not all police station schemes will benefit from an increase, it is positive to see this consultation on police station and youth court fees is finally underway.
“There are two proposals put forward for reforming police station fees and we will be working with our Criminal Law Committee members and the crime practitioner groups to get a full understanding of the impacts of each proposal.
“The consultation paper recognises that a standard fee scheme, which better reflects the actual work solicitors are required to do, is the way forward for police station fees and we look forward to working with the government in developing that.
"However, reform will only succeed if there are significant further increases in criminal legal aid for solicitors’ firms, as otherwise the current exodus of criminal law solicitors will continue and duty schemes across the country will continue to collapse.
“We welcome the proposed enhanced fee for the most serious cases in the youth court. This is complex and specialist work with some of the most vulnerable clients whose cases need the most careful handling. It is right that the skills required to do this work properly should be reflected within the payment structures.
“However, it is disappointing that prison law fees are still being neglected, with no proposed uplifts, given the bleak situation illustrated by the Association of Prison Lawyers (APL) recent report.”
Notes to editors
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