Police considering in-house legal team

THE POLICE Federation is to consider recruiting in-house lawyers following a forecast that legal bills will triple to more than £12 million by the turn of the century.

Treasurer Barrie Biddulph has written a report for this month's conference which outlines the soaring cost of representing its 126,000 members.

The federation has no in-house team, contracting out work, mostly to Russell Jones & Walker. Remaining work goes to about 200 other firms.

But the conference will be asked to instruct officials to

examine whether in-house lawyers could be used for some of the workload. The proposal is contained in an amendment to a motion seeking to double subscription fees from £8 to £16 by the Millennium. Higher subscriptions would ease the federation's financial problems.

Biddulph says the bill has risen because more officers are using the cut-price legal service, and cases like accident and criminal injury claims are becoming more complex.

Russell Jones & Walker has acted for the federation for over 35 years. John Webber, senior and managing partner, says: “The more people are successfully represented, the more word gets around, and the more policemen will use the federation instead of a local solicitor.”