Autumn Budget And Spending Review 2021 01.11.21

Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021: A Stronger Economy for the British People (publishing.service.gov.uk)

Statement from Jo Sidhu QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association:

The allocation for extra monies for any court recovery plan will remain, tragically, window dressing for the many thousands of victims of crime, whose wait for justice will remain interminable as long as, and until, substantial sums are reinjected to pay properly for the criminal advocates being forced to leave practice in droves because of Government inaction.

There is little sense in allocating headline-grabbing sums for initiatives to tackle rape and violence against women, or repeating a commitment to the largest capital spend on prisons in a generation, when there is only short-term funding for the engine room of the system and no commitment to adequately remunerating our legal aid lawyers who keep the creaking criminal justice system afloat every day.

Only last week Government was given clear advice by the foremost independent watchdog, the National Audit Office, that Treasury and the Ministry of Justice can choose to invest back substantial and urgently needed additional funds into criminal legal aid and address the massive court delays that are punishing victims of crime and defendants alike, or carry on without a coherent justice strategy thereby condemning huge sections of the pubic who are caught up in court proceedings to years of continuing neglect and human suffering.

This budget once again exposes a lack of joined up thinking and concomitant end-to-end funding across the criminal justice system, without which the government will fail in its core duty to the public – that it should do its utmost to protect all its citizens from harm and that includes complainants, defendants and witnesses.

That core duty cuts both ways: to keep people safe from would-be offenders in their homes or on the streets, but also to ensure that the cases of those accused of criminal offences are dealt with within a reasonable timeframe and without any compromise as to the quality of justice upon which we all rely.

Jo Sidhu QC

Chair of the Criminal Bar Association

View more news