SIGNIFICANT numbers of experienced police station clerks are failing the new Law Society exams, latest figures reveal.
Formal training becomes compulsory next month for police station representatives acting for legally-aided clients.
But one of the main training organisations reveals that scores of advisers are failing the exam because their portfolios - assessing real cases - do not come up to scratch.
Central Law Training says more than half the advisers who took the exam in November have not progressed to the next stage.
Anna Preston, who monitors training for the Law Society, says the large number of failures is not a cause for concern. She points out that the accreditation scheme was introduced because of the apparently low standards.
"We would be more worried if there were found to be inconsistencies between the different testing organisations," she says.
"There are a large number of experienced people sitting the exam. But just because they have been doing it a long time doesn't necessarily mean they are doing it well," she says.
"The training is designed to make people look at their strengths and weaknesses. The longer you have been doing a job the harder it is to look objectively at your skills," she adds.
In addition to the portfolio of nine real life cases, clerks taking the exam must sit a written examination paper and work through a role play.
The College of Law, another of the testing organisations,
examined its first 70 police station representatives in December but the results are not yet available.