Criminal Bar leaders have called on politicians to invest in the justice system.

Francis FitzGibbon QC and Angela Rafferty QC, the Chair and Vice Chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said that after Brexit, the legal system as a whole will be among the UK’s most prestigious and important assets.

The rule of law, they said, depends on a properly funded court system, with careers as lawyers and judges open to talent – without restriction by class, ethnicity or wealth.

But, they said: ‘Governments for at least 25 years have allowed criminal justice to degrade, from the police service, through the publicly funded part of the legal profession, the courts, to the prisons and the probation service.

‘Violent crime is rising and the system is dealing with a tsunami of highly sensitive sex cases, which are set to occupy it for years to come – it is imperative that enough investment is put in, across the sector, to ensure that the rights of victims and defendants are upheld.’

If £3bn can be found to repair the Houses of Parliament, the pair said, money must be available to invest in justice: ‘It is not an optional extra, but an essential element in a fair and tolerant society.’

They called on the next government to reverse the legal aid cuts, support the independent criminal Bar, repair the collapsing fabric of court buildings and retain the Human Rights Act as a powerful protector of victims.