The criminal justice system is ‘at breaking point’, the new chair of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) warned.

In her first ‘Monday Message’ email to CBA members, Angela Rafferty QC said: ‘We are heading into a post-Brexit world with a criminal justice system in crisis.’

She told members: ‘What we do is essential for the proper functioning of civil society’ but said the budget for criminal advocacy is ‘far too low and has been repeatedly cut to the bone’.

Rafferty said she was ‘well aware of the deep concerns’ about the proposed new Advocates Graduated Fee Scheme and said she would be meeting with heads of chambers and solicitors’ representatives to ensure ‘open, robust and transparent negotiations and a realistic debate whilst maintaining the honour and solidarity of our profession’.

On the pilots of the extended court sitting, launched in October, Rafferty said: ‘This initiative has been tried before and failed. As we keep repeating there is no good reason to try it again – it will have a disastrous effect on diversity and the working lives of all in the criminal justice system.’

Rafferty also pledged to tackle the problem of retaining and progressing women at the criminal Bar and to work to raise the prestige of youth justice work and those working in it.