The Government is proposing wholesale cuts to legal aid including judicial review, which has long been recognised as an important safeguard
against unlawful and arbitrary decision making by public bodies and the government.
In respect of prison law, funding would only be available for parole hearings and disciplinary hearings dealt with by magistrates. Challenges around important matters such as the separation of mothers and babies, prisoners being held in solitary confinement and resettlement issues would no longer receive legal aid. No exception is to be made for children or vulnerable groups.
The outward rationale behind the proposal is that the cost of legal aid is spiralling out of control, and that the public have lost confidence in the system. No evidence is provided by the MOJ to support these assertions.
The MOJ believe the prison complaints system is capable of dealing with all matters without the need for any legal involvement. This belief is again unsupported by any evidence and is disingenuous.
The Prisoners Advice Service would oppose any further cuts that might reduce access to justice, and would want the previous restrictions reversed. However with or without legal aid funding, the Prisoners Advice Service will continue to provide free, independent legal advice and assistance to prisoners.
click here to read the full response: MOJ ‘Transforming Legal Aid’ consultation