Help, when duty calls

Some duty solicitors face two related problems.

First, those of us who have been targeted by a local duty solicitor committee know what a lonely and harrowing experience it can be, as there is nowhere to turn for help.

Is it not time for the formation of a duty solicitor defence organisation?

Second, there is an urgent need for fundamental changes to the duty solicitor arrangements, under which the regional committees appoint and re-appoint themselves, and so see little wrong in local committees doing the same. This encourages abuse of power. Indeed, one regional committee chairman wrote:

"I am not aware of any reference in the duty solicitor arrangements to the eligibility of potential candidates for the local committee depending on their perceived suitability. That is no doubt something that must be left to the democratic process."

Thanks to the current arrangements, there is no democratic process, only clique dynamics.

I will be pleased to hear, in confidence, from anyone who has views on these subjects, or considers they were unfairly treated by a local committee.

Brian Shieldhouse

High Copt Hill, Cowshill

County Durham

DL13 1AU