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The Justice Secretary has submitted proposals to slash the Legal Aid budget by half and this will mean restructuring the Criminal Defence Market by awarding larger contracts to smaller numbers of bigger providers. The Government seem intent on reducing the number of criminal defence firms by 75% and this may lead to the resurrection of competitive tendering.
Many lawyers had feared that face-to-face advice at the police station would be removed. However, the new government appear committed to retaining this facility albeit solicitors will be paid less for providing this service.
Ian Durant, head of this firm’s Criminal Department views this announcement with some scepticism. Way back in 1984, the Government of the day introduced the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, which meant free and independent legal advice to all who attended the police station. This followed several cases involving a miscarriage of justice, which since 1984 has not been repeated. The dramatic cut backs now contemplated, again throws into turmoil the concerns which pre-existed the 1984 Act.
As a firm, we remain committed to servicing every call we receive from detainees at the police station within 15 minutes of receiving the call. Our dedicated team of criminal lawyers remain committed to providing the best professional service for this firm’s clients in the knowledge that their input at the police station can have a significant affect on the outcome.
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