Law Reform, LCCSA News, Legal Aid

A Diary of Chaos

PUBLISHED June 15, 2023

The Criminal Legal Aid Advisory Board (CLAAB) is tasked with considering reforms to criminal legal aid following the Bellamy Report - Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid.

The sub-group looking at police station fees met for the first time recently. The LCCSA is represented on the board by our President , Fadi Daoud, committee member, Casey Jenkins and co-opted committee member Greg Powell.

The first task for the group was to comment on some statistical work setting out for illustrative purposes (not proposals) how an additional £16m funding might be distributed to achieve objectives arising from the Bellamy Report of harmonising police station fees. Put simply, the scheme outlined was to lift the lowest fees by about £33.

An analysis of winners and losers showed that London would receive precisely nothing.

Whether this approach had any relevance to the objective of sustainability was vigorously challenged by Richard Atkinson, Deputy Vice President of the Law Society, a view supported by the LCCSA.

We also submitted in advance of the meeting a short paper setting out the unique characteristics of London which impact police station work. See the paper POLICE STATION FEES IN LONDON 2023.

Our argument is that the ‘higher’ fees in London (which were based on the historical average claims made when fees were based on time), reflect the practical difficulties of geography, the lack of planning of the Criminal Justice System, the loss of localism, police inefficiency, and the profile of cases in London.

We invite all member to contribute to a ‘Diary of Chaos’ especially as it effects police station work. We would ask that members send details on the loss of localism, police stations that have closed and if you know, the years they closed which will contribute to the maps we are working on to present to the Criminal Legal Aid Advisory Board showing the decline of the CJS infrastructure.

Please email any examples to Casey Jenkins.

The Committee is also undertaking work on the issue of London Weighting which historically was a component of fees reflecting the substantially higher operating costs on London firms.

We have identified a number of firms who we believe keep accurate records of police station time recording .

If you believe you also do, recording true travel and waiting in particular please contact Casey Jenkins, so that we can collate data from those firms to provide a more accurate and reliable database to inform decision making and policy.

We will continue to argue that any reform that gives London nothing would be inherently unfair and illogical and we will do all we can to ensure that London is dealt with fairly if there are to be improvements in police station fees.