The Association of Prison Lawyers, along with PAS, The Howard League for Penal Reform and the Legal Aid Practitioners’ Group, are boycotting the next Parole Board Users’ Group (PBUG).
As part of the recent Ministry of Justice (MoJ) Criminal Legal Aid Review, Sir Christopher Bellamy concluded that the sector needed a minimum of £135m every year to reverse what he described as ‘years of neglect’. Sir Bellamy specifically addressed the importance of prison law in his review and recommended that the proposed increase should also apply to this area of work. Criminal law barristers are currently undertaking action as a result of the Government’s failure to properly implement the recommendations. But prison lawyers who undertake many thousands of parole hearings each year will not receive any increase at all in rates of pay, not even the increases being applied to all other areas of work that fall under the Legal Aid Agency’s crime contract. The exclusion of prison work from the planned increases in legal aid rates demonstrates at best, a total lack of understanding of the work itself and at worst, a deliberate decision to underfund this vital part of the criminal justice system.
We are seeking a meeting with the Justice Secretary in the absence of a current legal aid Minister.
Read the letter sent to PBUG by the four organisations here.