Defence lawyers have attacked plans to place Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyers in police stations, and to make more defendants use duty solicitors in a new survey.
The report, commissioned by the Lord Chancellor's Department, reveals that most of the 30 defence lawyers questioned feel that making more defendants use duty solicitors will undermine continuity of representation and client choice.
The majority also say it would be “wrong in principle” and “impracticable”, for duty solicitors to provide representation at trial.
Placing CPS lawyers in police stations, claim the lawyers, risks a “serious erosion” of CPS independence and a limiting of its capacity to review subsequent files with proper objectivity.
Many also doubt the CPS's ability to assign lawyers of “sufficient authority” to the task of covering police stations.
The lawyers claim that proposals to send indictable-only cases directly to the Crown Court will “significantly increase” the number of cases that are being sent there unnecessarily, and could result in defendants losing the opportunity to apply for bail in the magistrates' court.
The report – Reducing Delay in the Criminal Justice System: The View of Defence Lawyers – was conducted by Warwick University's professor in the School of Law and director of the Legal
Research Institute, Lee Bridges and researcher, Marc Jacobs.
It seeks to test reaction to various proposals for cutting delays in the Criminal Justice System.
Many of the proposals are contained in the Narey Report in Delay in the Criminal Justice System, although other measures are introduced in the Crime and Disorder Bill and the Glidewell Report on the CPS.