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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.

    Five 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 won’t be able to access a duty solicitor. This means they won’t be able to get the free legal advice they’re entitled to.

    Find out more about the shortage of criminal duty solicitors

    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.

    Read our report on legal aid means testing

    Inefficiencies and unfairness in the system

    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.

    Also, the use of release under investigation (RUI) has increased dramatically since changes were placed on the use of bail in 2017. The release under investigation 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.

    Read more about RUI

    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 isn’t 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.

    Our parliamentary briefing

    We have asked government to spend more money to help resolve criminal justice issues.

    Read our January 2019 parliamentary briefing

    Get involved

    Sign our criminal justice petition

    We've launched a petition calling for the government to increase investment in the criminal justice system.

    Sign the petition

    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 wasn’t involved in the fight, Peter finds himself charged with affray.

    It’s just the beginning of a nightmare journey through the criminal justice system.