MOJ over-cutting criminal justice

New figures from the Legal Aid Agency show there is no need and no scope for further cuts, the Bar Council has claimed.

Welcoming the quarterly legal aid statistics as a “more transparent approach to the workings of legal aid”, Nicholas Lavender QC, Chairman of the Bar, said: “Crime has fallen and so have criminal cases going to court. This means that the cost of legal aid has fallen. Crown Court advocacy fees have already been cut by an average of 21% since 2007 (or 37% in real terms).”

The figures, which cover the quarter from April to June 2014, show that £49.9m was spent under the Advocates Graduated Fee Scheme, which indicates a level of expenditure of less than £200m per annum on the AGFS for 2014.

The same expenditure for 2012 was £264m, which itself was less than in earlier years. In Q2 2014 87,526 people were granted legal aid in the magistrates’ courts. The equivalent figure for Q2 2011 was 104,148 – a fall of 16% in three years. The number of the most serious (indictable-only) cases going to the Crown Court has also fallen.