Grave concern over falling number of criminal legal aid firms
Newly released figures show there are now 1,080 firms with a criminal legal aid contract.
“It is of grave concern to see the latest figures show there are 306 fewer criminal legal aid firms than five years ago,” said Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce.*
“If this trend continues, in 15 years’ time there could be insufficient numbers of providers with a criminal legal aid contract to represent those accused by the state of serious crimes.
“We have long highlighted the plight of criminal legal aid firms and called for the investment needed to ensure the long-term viability of the sector.
“With a huge backlog of criminal cases to be heard and increased police numbers predicted to lead to more arrests, criminal defence lawyers are needed more than ever to provide access to justice.
“Criminal defence is an ageing profession attracting few young lawyers, there are already areas without any duty solicitors available and firms face a talent drain to the Crown Prosecution Service, which prosecutes criminal cases and is able to offer better pay, terms and conditions.
“The government must provide the investment needed to secure the future of criminal legal aid firms before it is too late.”
Notes to editors
*There were 1,386 firms holding a criminal legal aid contract in April 2016 compared to 1,080 firms in September 2021.
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