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Criminal cuts? The legal aid debate

What is the role for criminal legal aid in a society with more criminal offences than ever before?

In the run up to the general election, Labour announced plans to slash the legal aid budget and to introduce measures that would have led to the closure of 80 per cent of legal aid criminal defence firms. Given that Labour created over 3000 new criminal offences, one for each day they were in power, this proposed slashing of legal aid raised the question of who is supposed to defend those accused of all these new offences. The new coalition government has announced its intention to put a stop to the creation of ‘needless’ new criminal offences, yet the question of how the Ministry of Justice is to manage budget cuts of £320 million has been left up in the air. Criminal legal aid is still under threat.

In spite of the gravity of the situation, legal aid is rarely discussed by anybody outside the legal profession. Further, it seems that any positive case lawyers make for legal aid is greeted with accusations of overt self-interest and greed. Is the right to choose your own lawyer, which depends on the availability of legal aid, still important? Or is it a waste of funds that would be better spent on preventing crime happening in the first place? Should the state handle the defence as well as the prosecution in the name of greater efficiency, or are independent criminal defence services worth defending? What is the role for criminal legal aid in a society with more criminal offences than ever before?


Steve Hynes | talks
Ms Tessa Mayes | talks | www
Luke Gittos | talks


Date and Time:

17 November 2010 at 7:00 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



Free Word Centre
60 Farringdon Road

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Organised by:

Institute of Ideas
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