It has been widely reported that the Government is to introduce increases to Magistrates’ Court fines.
I am sure that you will have already heard about the proposed cuts to legal aid for prisoners. It has now been announced that the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) will implement the Amended Criminal Legal Aid (General) Regulations before the end of this year. They are aiming to implement the changes by 2nd December 2013.
Whilst protests are still going on, the cuts now appear to be unavoidable.
As many of you will now know the Government have significantly cut the legal aid budget and indeed they continue to do so. I have asked Amy Hossack, a solicitor with the firm to write a piece for you explaining the impact of these cuts on prisoners and to outline the areas that we can assist you with.
John Turner, Prison Law Supervisor
I would imagine that most of you will have read about the recent decision of the European Court of Human
Rights involving three ‘whole lifers’. It certainly has been widely reported on and the Government have been
quick to criticise the Strasbourg judgement. I have represented a number of ‘whole lifers’ and I am delighted that this judgement finally gives some hope. In light of the recent judgement I have asked my partner, Nick Peacock who also happens to be a barrister called in 1996 and Amy Hossack, a Solicitor from our Prison Law department to write a piece on the recent developments. I’m sure you will find the following piece very informative.
I am delighted to announce that we have recently welcomed Andrew Wraith to the firm. I have known Andy for many years and I am thrilled that he has come across to Kyles. Andy specialises in family law and he has kindly written an article for this edition of Converse looking at the changes that will come about to Legal Aid funding in family case from next month.
Hi, I’m Annalisa, a solicitor at Kyles, and I’ve worked in prison law for 4 ½ years, most particularly with lifers approaching Parole Board reviews. Like John, I have noticed an increasing trend for Parole Boards to be overly cautious in the assessment of risk and this has led to many inmates who could be working on resettlement plans in an open prison, or even be released under the supervision of probation, spending longer in Category C, whilst the Prison Service tries to find them offending behaviour work to do, to justify their remaining in closed conditions. This has become a vicious circle, with more prisoners in Category C, leading to less access to courses, leading to less prisoners progressing to open conditions.
In recent months, you will have all read about the Coalition Government’s proposed cuts to public spending. As part of the Government’s push to lower public spending, they are looking to halt the relentless rise in prison numbers that we have seen over the last decade and lower the prison population and propose to carry out a sentencing review. In recent weeks the Secretary of State for Justice, Ken Clarke has criticised what he has called ‘ineffectual’ and ‘absurd’ shorter sentences and has suggested that tougher community sentences would, in many cases, be more effective.
Those of you are life sentenced prisoners will be aware of the delays and difficulties in progressing towards open conditions or release; the offending behaviour work (including the delays faced by some to get on these courses) and then the time in less secure conditions to show ‘consolidation’ of all these skills.