Legal aid cuts have created a ‘two-tier justice system’ benefiting the wealthy, damning report finds
The Bach Commission on access to justice states that poor people are being left without advice or professional support due to cuts which strictly limit the type of cases for which which legal aid can be applied.
Changes to eligibility rules mean most cases involving housing, welfare, debt, immigration, medical negligence and family law no longer qualify for assistance.
Labour’s shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon said: “Since 2010, the Conservatives have implemented unprecedented cuts to legal aid – putting justice beyond the reach of thousands. There is much of substance in the report, which will be welcome to all those who value the principle of access to justice.
“I am particularly excited by the idea of enshrining in law a minimum standard for access to justice. A basic threshold for access to justice has the potential to be a historic advance in our law which could improve the lives of thousands.”
Full article here.
Sikhs in UK are ‘invisible to government’ despite hate crime increase
According to the UK Sikh Survey 2016, almost one in five Sikhs has encountered discrimination in a public place over the past year and one in seven has directly experienced workplace discrimination.
The report found that Sikhs who wear religious iconography or clothing are most likely to experience abuse, with men more vulnerable than women. The most common places where discrimination is experienced are airports and public transport.
The report says the government and public bodies have “systematically failed the minority Sikh community by not adequately responding to the disproportionate impact of racism and hate crime targeting Sikhs since 9/11”.
Hate crimes against Sikhs are wrongly recorded as Islamophobic incidents by police suggesting religious illiteracy and throwing doubt on the accuracy of recorded data, it adds.
Full article here.
Top judge urges tougher community service as alternative to prison
Fewer criminals should be jailed and tougher community punishments developed as an alternative to imprisonment, the lord chief justice has urged.
“There’s an awful lot we can do to avoid sending certain people to prison provided that the orders are properly carried out by the probation and rehabilitation companies,” he said.