Latest Public Sector News

04.04.13

Legal aid could be scrapped for prisoners’ complaints

Prisoners will be prevented from claiming legal aid to pursue complaints against the prison system, justice secretary Chris Grayling has announced.

The Ministry of Justice is consulting on proposals, which could mean 11,000 fewer cases – saving £4m a year. The legal aid in question would cover issues such as the category of prison or section an inmate was held in, or the levels of visits and correspondence they receive.

Grayling said: “I have been appalled that taxpayers pay millions of pounds every year supplying lawyers for prisoners to bring unnecessary legal cases. The vast majority of these types of complaint can and should be dealt with by the prison service's complaints system.

“After years spiralling out of control, the amount spent on legal aid for prisoners is being tackled. Legal aid must be preserved for those most in need and where a lawyer's services are genuinely needed.”

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “While no-one would support vexatious use of the law, when it comes to people deprived of their liberty and held by the state you do need safeguards to ensure that our prison system is fair, decent and open to legitimate challenge.”

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