Association of Prison Lawyers advocates increase in Legal Aid Rate
By Law News
Prison Lawyers Association urges 15% rise in legal aid rates for a robust criminal justice system
In a landmark decision, the High Court's judgment on criminal legal aid funding has been welcomed by the Association of Prison Lawyers. The Law Society's legal challenge against the government's refusal to implement the minimum 15% increase recommended by the independent criminal legal aid review, known as the "Bellamy Review," succeeded on two grounds. The Court deemed the Secretary of State for Justice's decisions regarding legal aid fees as both unlawful and irrational.
The litigation shed light on the immense pressures faced by lawyers working in the criminal justice system. The Court highlighted that the system is gradually unravelling, relying excessively on the goodwill of its practitioners. Without a substantial influx of funding, the system risks imminent collapse.
This dire situation is reflected nationwide, particularly among prison lawyers:
- Pay for prison law work has plummeted by 35% since 2011, adjusting for inflation.
- Between 2008 and 2022, providers for prison law legal aid decreased by a staggering 85%.
- Despite the Bellamy Review's recommendation for a minimum 15% increase in prison law and parole work remuneration, the Secretary of State implemented no increase.
- Three-quarters of prison lawyers predict they won't continue this work in three years, primarily due to inadequate remuneration.
- Between 2011 and 2022, oral parole hearings nearly doubled, and the prison population reached record levels.
The Association of Prison Lawyers urgently calls on the Secretary of State to heed the High Court's judgment and promptly implement Lord Bellamy's full 15% funding recommendation for all criminal legal aid areas. This includes a crucial 15% increase for prison and parole work, vital for sustaining an effective criminal justice system. The call is a plea for justice, aiming to secure the future of legal professionals and the integrity of the justice system as a whole.