Legal Aid News: September 2020

Welcome to our update of the latest legal aid and access to justice news from September 2020

 

YLAL Survey & Roundtable online discussion on the Call for Evidence for the Government’s Independent Review of Administrative Law. More than 100 people attended the online event that took place on the 23rd of September, and featured prominent legal aid practitioners with hands on experience of judicial reviews. The panelists talked about the wording of the announcement, mentioning that it seems to omit the government’s obligations towards the public, and the availability of judicial review as a way to challenge governmental decisions. YLAL also launched a survey which aims to gather evidence regarding the operation of judicial review on the ground. The deadline to complete the survey was last Sunday.  

 

Backlog of cases in criminal courts and comment from the Bar Council. Chair of the Bar Council, Amanda Pinto QC, said: “It is staggering to see justice used as a political football. Politicians squabbling over the disgraceful backlog in the criminal courts is of no use to the public and has got to stop. The government should concentrate on improving the whole system for victims, witnesses and those accused of crime, and not on one-upmanship in a game of diminishing returns”. While the number of outstanding cases has grown from 43,676 this July to 46,467 at the end of August, sitting court dates were cut this September. 

 

Justice matters collection of essaysThe book launched at the end of this month, and features a collection of essays regarding the pandemic, but also the underlying structural enequalities that this pandemic revealed all over the world. The launch event also featured input from BPLS UK leaders, who have been Legal Observing in BLM protests all over the UK during and after lockdown.

 

YLAL Virtual-6 months on after the Coronavirus Act. At the start of the month, YLAL featured an online event focusing on the six months after the pass of the coronavirus Act. This was a sequential event since back in April YLAL hosted a similar event about the Coronavirus Act and what it entailed for the legal profession but also vulnerable people and people with disabilities that required to be outside their households for certain periods of time. The new event featured talks about repealing the Coronavirus Act, the effect of the act on civil liberties as well as the power to detain people under schedule 21 of the Act.

 

New Stop and Search Powers announced on the 14th of September for people that have been convicted for carrying an offensive weapon in public. The measure is called ‘Serious Violence Order’ and under it police officers will be able to stop and search those offenders. Crime and Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse said: ‘Knife crime has a devastating effect on young lives and our neighbourhoods’ and expressed hope that this new measure will help reduce knife crime in the UK. 

 

We are very grateful to YLAL member Joanna Veimou for this month's update. If you would like to contribue to YLAL's legal aid news updates, email ylalinfo@gmail.com