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Criminal Bar Head’s DIY Defence Warning

(Posted on 06/12/19)

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Legal Aid cuts have been followed by a steep rise in the number of defendants representing themselves in crown court.

“7.7% of people in the court [at first appearance] are litigants in person,” Caroline Goodwin QC, head of the Criminal Bar Association, told the annual Bar Council conference on Saturday.  “That builds in a time delay because their cases take longer.

“At the moment, 40% of criminal courts are sitting empty. You can’t get access to court. How is that access to justice? Unless there’s investment [the criminal justice system is] going to fail and falter.

“If the courts are not sitting then justice can’t be done. More sitting days. [We need to] reduce the backlog that is bound to increase.

“Give us buildings that work and, above all, invest in our criminal justice system. Our buildings are falling apart.” 

Ms Goodwin, perhaps over-modestly, neglected to mention that defendants without a barrister might not get the best chance of a fair trial and risk wrongful conviction.