Report reveals legal aid cuts are increasing DIY defence

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10th May 2016 10:30 - Professional Services

Warnings from legal experts have suggested that lengthy delays in the criminal justice system, as well as miscarriages of justice have resulted in an increase in DIY defence, with a rising number of people electing to represent themselves in court.Report reveals legal aid cuts are increasing DIY defence

Entitled Justice Denied, the report revealed that cuts to legal aid, paired with inadequate information and support and complex bureaucracy, has resulted in a rise in individuals choosing to represent themselves in court without a lawyer.

At present there are no official statistics for the number of unrepresented defendants in magistrate’s courts, however, the Ministry of Justice is currently conducting an inquiry into the issue within crown courts. Instead, the Transform Justice report uses a range of data as proof, such as survey findings from the Magistrates Association, fieldwork conducted in courts, statistics from the Ministry of Justice, an online survey of lawyers, freedom of information requests, as well as surveys with magistrates and judges.

The charity who produced the report, Transform Justice, gave an anecdotal example of a defendant, who was not being represented, who stayed silent for the duration of his appearance in court via video link. Following his incarceration, it was revealed that the defendant was in fact deaf.

The Magistrates Association’s survey findings revealed that 25 per cent of defendants who came to the Association’s members in 2014 were unrepresented. The survey gained 143 responses from people in the legal profession.

Transform Justice revealed that 90 per cent of their respondents believed that there had been a rise in unrepresented defendants since 2014.

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