Parliamentary briefing: Criminal justice system in crisis

We're concerned about our crumbling criminal justice system. 

It faces a number of challenges, including:

  • increasing shortages of criminal duty solicitors
  • a restrictive means test for criminal legal aid
  • inefficiencies in the system
  • more and more courts being closed
  • crucial evidence often not being disclosed

These problems represent a criminal justice system at breaking point – and without urgent action the system will fall apart.

Justice is a key export for the UK. The legal services sector contributed over £26 billion to the economy in 2017. The integrity of our justice system depends on the whole system working effectively – a poorly functioning criminal justice system impacts on our international reputation.

Our position

In the year of the spending review, we're calling on the government to address the problems that impact on all areas of our criminal justice system by taking up our recommendations, in particular on:

  • duty solicitors
  • criminal legal aid fees
  • the legal aid means test

We welcome the Ministry of Justice’s review of criminal legal aid fees. However, this review is not expected to be published until late 2020, and we call on government to now make the urgent changes to fees needed to ensure the sustainability of the criminal justice system.

This briefing sets out our recommendations for the urgent changes needed to ensure the criminal justice system remains sustainable.

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