Posts Tagged ‘ Duty solicitor rotas ’


SUCKED OFF BY CPS

Written by admin
September 8th, 2019

At a time when it is increasingly hard to persuade newly qualified solicitors to work in the criminal courts and offer their services as duty solicitors on a 24 hour rota basis.  At a time when experienced expert criminal solicitors are refusing to work on the 24 hour duty solicitor rota because they have done it for the last 15, 20, 25 or 30 years and cannot face it anymore. A new wound is opened up in the side of the Defence community.

Over the last three years there has been a steady flow of Defence solicitors to the Crown Prosecution Service.  The CPS offer a working life devoid of out of hours commitments.  There is no need to work in the decrepit and hostile environment of the police stations.  You will not meet with mentally unwell, drug addicted, or angry and antagonistic clients on a day to day basis.  Finally, you will benefit from all of the civil service benefits negotiated over a lengthy period of time by a skilled and experienced set of union negotiators.

21 years on from the last increase in legal aid rates, wages and conditions at the CPS seem increasingly attractive to the employees and Partners of criminal firms.

If Boris Johnson’s increase in policemen on the ground is to be accompanied by an increase in prosecutors to deal with the new prosecutions and arrests that must surely follow, we can expect more and more people to be sucked away from real or potential jobs within the Defence community.  Let’s face it, there are few enough people who want to work in crime overall.  If the Crown are to recruit more from this limited pool, the effect on Defence firms and duty solicitor rotas is likely to be catastrophic.

SLAUGHTER OF THOSE PROTECTING THE INNOCENT

Written by admin
September 3rd, 2019

Figures published by CLSA and The Law Society indicate a 29% drop in the number of duty solicitors since 2016.  This has caused us to review our own position and the position of duty solicitors in the areas that we serve.

As far as duty solicitors in Nottingham are concerned, there was a time when 104 names appeared on the duty solicitor rota.  In October there will be no more than 71.  Plainly, this fall is higher than the national average.

As far as duty solicitors in Derby are concerned, at the high tide there were 74 names on the rota, but as of October 2019 it will be down to 51.   A dramatic fall for a rota that has to provide duty solicitors for Derby, Ilkeston, Ripley, Alfreton and beyond.

In Sheffield, it is harder to compare numbers of duty solicitors as the closure of the Rotherham court has confused matters to some extent.  The simple reality however is that for a city of well over half a million people there are only 46 duty solicitors on the rota.  With three duty solicitors required to attend court Monday to Friday, this is a real problem area.

In Barnsley, the number of duty solicitors has fallen from 25 to 16.  Doncaster duty solicitors are down from 38 to 23.  In Grimsby there are now 19 duty solicitors to cover an area that used to have both a Scunthorpe and a Grimsby rota handling the work.

The Lincoln duty solicitor rota at current shows 19 names, but this substantial university town is likely to be by no more than 17.

There can be no doubt that the failure to increase rates for remuneration and the growing distance involved in travelling to service “local” clients are factors that are contributed to the disappearance of enthusiastic young solicitors and the early retirement of those who have been doing it for many years.  If ever there was a time for the government to address the factors that have seen this service cut to the bone, it must surely be now.

PHASED WITHDRAWAL

Written by admin
March 25th, 2019

Within the area of the country covered by The Johnson Partnership offices we have noticed an interesting if worrying phenomenon.

In the town of Buxton there used to be a thriving Magistrates’ Court and a custody suite which covered the entirety of the northwest of Derbyshire from Matlock to Glossop and from Hartington over to Baslow. This is a huge area of land and a good number of people in its radius.

In the second round of cuts, the Magistrates’ Court, which has long since served this thriving market town was closed. Work was transferred to Chesterfield stage by stage. Initially custody cases were transferred to Chesterfield and then there was a total closure leading to all matters being heard in a court over thirty miles away, with no train link between the two and a somewhat ponderous bus service.

The next step was for the custody suite to be downgraded. Increasingly, prisoners who were likely to be in custody for more than six hours, were being dealt with at Chesterfield rather than Buxton. Inevitably, it soon became a police station where a vast majority of interviewees were those attending on a voluntary basis.

The Duty Solicitor Scheme for Buxton has slowly been wound down. Solicitors have to choose their slots on either the Chesterfield or Stockport rotas.

We now therefore have a town with no court, no meaningful custody suite, no Duty Solicitor Scheme, and very very few solicitors serving that entire region.

WHO YOU GONNA CALL?

Written by admin
September 28th, 2018

Many thought that by 2018 the “ghost busting” regulations in the 2017 Criminal Contract would have seized taking any real affects. All those ghost duty Solicitors who claimed to be working diligently, albeit out of sight, and to a large extent out of mind, were flushed out by the 14 hour a week rule.

Duty Solicitor rotas shrank. Venerable names from long ago disappeared from members lists. Duty Solicitor slots started to come round with disconcerting regularity. No longer were people being paid £12,000.00 a year for the use of their name on a rota which might yield no more than 2 or 3 opportunities to work as a Duty Solicitor within a 6 month period.

Some fell on their swords. Some were put to the sword by competitors. Some were hacked away by the very Firm who long resented being haunted by their ghostly grasping presence, but who daren’t send for an Exorcist for the fear of losing market share.

Incredibly, however, the slaughter of the not so innocent continues. As a the regular annual audit round takes place, more and more questions are being asked by politely enquiring contract Managers about the compliance records of those appearing on the staff list. Managing Partners who are just too busy to make it to the Police Station, retirees who were thinking of putting in the odd appearance but have not quite made it, Solicitors who are now, oh so busy, learning about new areas of practice, but have forgotten where they came from have all been sent off to the land of the living dead.

By the end of the Contract in 2022 you can’t however think that the majority of Duty Solicitors will either be in nappies or suffering from the early onset of some debilitating mental condition.

The prospect of having to do 3, 4 or 5 times the number of Duty Solicitor shifts that we were doing in 2016 maybe a lucrative one but also one that is unappealing to present and a positive turn off for potential recruits.

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