PCS today (11) renewed calls for proper funding for the justice system to reverse years of swingeing cuts which have had a “devastating impact” on society.
Motion 67 to the TUC demanding a properly-resourced Crown Prosecution Service and more legal aid funding was unanimously passed on the final morning of Congress.
PCS delegate Steven Swainston spoke in support of the motion and said: “The CPS continues to claim that the department is over-resourced at admin level – the reality is the absolute opposite.
“Continuing issues around recruitment and retention must be addressed. Addressing the pay restraint is a priority for PCS members.”
Steve highlighted the fact that huge cuts have been made to legal aid and have had a devastating impact on the most vulnerable in society.
“PCS firmly believes that cuts to legal aid, including for tribunals, must be reversed and funding must be put in place to ensure that all people can access the justice system, not just those with recourse to funds,” he said.
Legal aid deserts
The motion was moved by Dave Penman on behalf of the FDA, who highlighted how some parts of the country have become legal aid deserts.
He said: “Our calls could soon be a matter of self interest for our prime minister. If he decides to die in a ditch and defy parliament, then very soon he may well experience the harsh realities of his resource starved justice system.
“If you don’t want to be banged up for months in Wormwood Scrubs waiting for a court date, then fund the justice system well.”
Katie Lomas from NAPO said: “It can’t be right that proper justice has become a commodity purchased by the rich and out of reach for most of the population.”
The motion instructed Congress to demand of the government:
· a properly resourced CPS – to protect the public with a robust and effective prosecution service
· no more cuts to legal aid – to ensure that justice is available to all
· investment in digital disclosure – to maintain public confidence in justice
· competitive pay and fees – to recruit and retain lawyers for a sustainable criminal justice system.