Transform Justice report: Criminal defence in an age of austerity

A new report from Transform Justice (pdf), published July 2019, looks at the experiences of defendants and standards of defence advice and advocacy. It was written in light of David Lammy’s review of the treatment of BAME people in the criminal justice system. It was also prompted by concerns from lawyers’ representative organisations that the reduction in fees for legally aided criminal work is affecting the availability and quality of representation.

The report makes recommendations around how defendants choose lawyers, regulation of defence practitioners, and addressing systemic barriers to good quality defence. These include:

  • helping suspects and defendants to be more confident in choosing a lawyer through public legal education and better online information,
  • reviewing legal aid fixed fees to remove perverse incentives and incentivise best practice,
  • facilitating the expansion of not-for-profit defence companies and the operation of freelance practitioners,
  • actively monitoring the quality of legally aided advocacy so poor standards can be identified and individuals who struggle can be given support to improve.

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