Legal aid proposals
9 April 2013
Legal aid proposals will consign children to the streets
Responding to the Ministry of Justice’s announcement of a consultation on legal aid, Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said:
“The government’s proposals are profoundly unfair, terribly misconceived and will have potentially disastrous consequences for society as a whole.
“The withdrawal of funding for resettlement cases will consign children to the streets or hostels on their release from custody, exposing them to untold dangers. This is because we will no longer be able to challenge the unjust decisions of local authorities who inappropriately treat boys and girls as homeless when they leave the secure estate.
“These changes may also lead to a collapse in justice in the very place where it should be paramount – within prison walls. This will impact on children as well as adults. These cuts build on proposed reforms which seek to deny people the opportunity to pursue judicial reviews. These are crucial in highlighting and preventing violence in jails and making sure that young people can rebuild their lives, which helps keep the public safe.
“The misuse of solitary confinement can exacerbate mental health problems and lead to lost lives. Access to behavioural programmes or help with resettlement can mean the difference between a prisoner going on to change their life for the better or to reoffend.
“The government speculates that these measures will amount to 0.2 per cent of the £2.5billion savings the Ministry of Justice must make by 2015. However, realising even this drop in the ocean is unlikely. This is clear from research published in January by King’s College London, which showed that, with every £1 the MoJ saves removing clinical negligence from the scope of legal aid, the NHS could be liable for up to £3.
“These changes will only succeed in increasing burdens on other overstretched government departments – a detrimental impact the taxpayer can ill-afford.”
Notes to editors
- The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the UK. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
- Details of the consultation can be accessed on the Ministry of Justice website.
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