It could become illegal to deny offenders legal aid
- 29 Jul
The court of appeal has ruled that inmates with mental health problems or learning difficulties could become disadvantaged if legal representation is removed.
It could become illegal to deny prisoners in England and Wales legal aid so that they are able to effectively challenge the conditions they are held under, rules the court of appeal, reports the Guardian.
Senior judges have granted two charities permission to bring a fresh case of questioning towards the legality of budgetary restrictions introduced by the Ministry of Justice.
Sir Brian Leveson has said: “There could be a significant number of individuals subject to these types of decisions for whom it may be very difficult to participate effectively without support from someone. It is arguable, therefore, that without the potential for access to appropriate assistance, the system could carry an unacceptable risk of unfair, and therefore unlawful, decision making.”
The court declared that the removal of legal representation for inmates with mental health problems or learning disabilities could be put at a particular disadvantage.
A full hearing of the issues before the court of appeal has been scheduled for next spring.
Frances Crook, the chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “We welcome today’s decision, which offers hope to children and young people in prison. The Howard League’s legal team has represented many hundreds of children in prison and we want them to thrive inside and on release. Legal aid gets them the best help to achieve that.”
Deborah Russo, the joint managing solicitor at PAS, said: “We are delighted with the outcome of today’s hearing. The legal aid cuts to prison law have resulted in prisoners’ access to justice being severely curtailed with the consequence of further isolating an already very marginalised sector of our society. We therefore welcome today’s judgment, which now allows for a full hearing of the case and are thrilled to be now given the opportunity to put forward our case for legal aid for the most deprived and disadvantaged of prisoners.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: ”We welcome the fact that the court has narrowed what was a wide-ranging claim to just one issue. Legal aid is taxpayers’ money and should be used where really necessary, not for issues from prisoners that can be fairly dealt with by other means. We will continue to argue this point in court.”
What do you think of this? Tweet us your comments @suppsolutions
- 11 Sep
Prisons told to adjust for older inmates
Ombudsman Nigel Newcomen says prisons will have to take on "care home and even hospice" roles in future, reports the BBC. He said: "It is remarkable that the fastest growing segment of the prison...
- 31 Jul
Charities are best at reducing re-offending
A report by charity thinktank New Philanthropy Capital has found that 28% of charity projects have helped to reduce reoffending compared to 19% of private companies, reports the Guardian.The report...
- 08 Jul
Offender’s rehabilitation is delayed by legal aid restrictions
The court of appeal has been told that thousands of prisoners are being prevented from starting rehabilitation due to them being denied legal aid for parole board hearings, reports the...
- 17 Mar
New supported accommodation for ex-offenders in Birmingham
Trident Reach the People Charity's new Reach House has been built to provide 24-hour supported accommodation for young offenders to help support them getting back into the community after their...
- 12 Mar
Staff working with young offenders criticised
A report by three inspection bodies has said that staff aimed at helping reduce re-offending in young offenders are "too often suspicious of each other" reports the BBC.The report, by the Care...
- 19 Sep
Family homes are needed to help offenders re-offending
A study by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, HM Inspectorate of Probation and Ofsted had found that almost one in five prisoners did not know where they would be living once they left jail, reports Inside...
- 16 Sep
Ex-offenders ‘lacking home and job'
An inspection into resettlement provision for adult prisoners had followed 80 offenders after they left prison. Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said that it found the role of a prisoner's...
- 16 May
Offenders placed in prison for a day in a bid to cut re-offending
The Centre for Social Justice has urged the government to look to the US where this approach appears to work. The report has said that a third of people given community sentences re-offended within a...
- 30 Jan
Inspection finds offenders with learning disabilities are not being supported
The inspection looking into the treatment of offenders with learning disabilities within the criminal justice systems was conducted by HM Inspectorate of Probation, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary,...
- 08 Jan
Campaigner says the reorganisation of rehabilitation will not cut reoffending
The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has announced big changes to the criminal justice system under the "transforming rehabilitation" agenda which plans to transfer the responsibility for the...
Responding to the DWP Consultation: Housing Benefit Reform - Supported Housing "Found the seminar very informative and gave an interesting and full insight into current thinking about the consultation. Michael was a very engaging and knowledgeable presenter and encouraged interaction with the audience which led to further relevant points being shared with the room. I shall certinaly look out for future events!" M.E. - Care Housing Association