Publish performance statistics for duty-solicitors

With cuts to public legal funding duty solicitors have come to be on fixed fees and may be motivated to handle cases in the way which is quickest for them rather than best for the client.  According to the LSC one of the incentives for solicitors to do well is their reputation, spread by word of mouth amongst those might have frequent recourse to them.  This incentive would be greatly strengthened if duty solicitors outcomes were made publicly available.

The Legal Services commission does carry out peer-reviews on duty solicitors, which includes monitoring their rates of 'No Further Outcomes' (NFAs), but seems to go well beyond this.  It doesn't publish these because it has not done them for all solicitors and it would be unfair to publish for some only.  It might be a lot cheaper simply to collate NFA rates for all duty solicitors, which could then be published, rather than than to carry out full-peer reviews for some, which are not published.

Why is this idea important?

With cuts to public legal funding duty solicitors have come to be on fixed fees and may be motivated to handle cases in the way which is quickest for them rather than best for the client.  According to the LSC one of the incentives for solicitors to do well is their reputation, spread by word of mouth amongst those might have frequent recourse to them.  This incentive would be greatly strengthened if duty solicitors outcomes were made publicly available.

The Legal Services commission does carry out peer-reviews on duty solicitors, which includes monitoring their rates of 'No Further Outcomes' (NFAs), but seems to go well beyond this.  It doesn't publish these because it has not done them for all solicitors and it would be unfair to publish for some only.  It might be a lot cheaper simply to collate NFA rates for all duty solicitors, which could then be published, rather than than to carry out full-peer reviews for some, which are not published.

Abolish ‘sanction-detection’ target for incidents of domestic violence

It is quite right that police should be required to pay attention to domestic violence.  However they must get called to quite a few trivial domestic rows, either by one of the parties or a third party.  The priority should be to calm the situation and not necessarily to criminalise someone.

It is much better that police investigate the more serious incidents of domestic violence even if these might not always seem the most likely to end in a ‘sanction-detection’ than that the system should encourage them to pursue less serious cases where there may be a better chance of getting a result. 

Pursuing incidents of domestic violence is praiseworthy but there are budget cuts coming and if police have to prioritise it is surely better that they pursue cases of violence according to the level of violence, regardless of whether they are domestic or not.  Which is worse, a minor slap in a domestic row where a couple have lived together without incident for some years and are going through a crisis, or a glassing at the pub?

Why is this idea important?

It is quite right that police should be required to pay attention to domestic violence.  However they must get called to quite a few trivial domestic rows, either by one of the parties or a third party.  The priority should be to calm the situation and not necessarily to criminalise someone.

It is much better that police investigate the more serious incidents of domestic violence even if these might not always seem the most likely to end in a ‘sanction-detection’ than that the system should encourage them to pursue less serious cases where there may be a better chance of getting a result. 

Pursuing incidents of domestic violence is praiseworthy but there are budget cuts coming and if police have to prioritise it is surely better that they pursue cases of violence according to the level of violence, regardless of whether they are domestic or not.  Which is worse, a minor slap in a domestic row where a couple have lived together without incident for some years and are going through a crisis, or a glassing at the pub?

Low-cost tribunals for reviewing police cautions

From the experience of a friend of mine I believe many people have been pressured into accepting police cautions by target-chasing police, for trivial offences or where they were innocent or even a victim of crime. (The last is certainly possible in cases of domestic violence, here if an incident is reported police they are under pressure to issue a sanction against someone, and they may not care too much who it is.). The legacy of these poisons relations between the police and the public. They are administered without proper safeguards by officers who need a success and accused people may be 'defended' by duty solicitors on fixed fees with no particular incentive to put themselves out for their clients.  They are administered so easily and are so difficult to remove: it involves a judicial review for which no public funding is available and is either ferociously expensive or, if the applicant is unrepresented, very difficult.   I am sure many vulnerable people have accepted cautions just to get out of the police station, without realising the consequences until later..  If they are administered so easily they ought to be reviewed easily, by people independent of the police, lay people, similar to magistrates.  I am sure there would be no shortage of ideas in the ‘Big Society’.  Applicants could pay a modest fee, to deter trivial applications.  Perhaps also there should be a cooling-off period for those who have been pressured into accepting cautions.  If cautions were judged by the same standards as the selling of financial services I am sure there would be found to be many cases of mis-selling.

I invite the administrator to contact me directly if they wish to know more detail about the case which has caused me to reflect on these issues.

Why is this idea important?

From the experience of a friend of mine I believe many people have been pressured into accepting police cautions by target-chasing police, for trivial offences or where they were innocent or even a victim of crime. (The last is certainly possible in cases of domestic violence, here if an incident is reported police they are under pressure to issue a sanction against someone, and they may not care too much who it is.). The legacy of these poisons relations between the police and the public. They are administered without proper safeguards by officers who need a success and accused people may be 'defended' by duty solicitors on fixed fees with no particular incentive to put themselves out for their clients.  They are administered so easily and are so difficult to remove: it involves a judicial review for which no public funding is available and is either ferociously expensive or, if the applicant is unrepresented, very difficult.   I am sure many vulnerable people have accepted cautions just to get out of the police station, without realising the consequences until later..  If they are administered so easily they ought to be reviewed easily, by people independent of the police, lay people, similar to magistrates.  I am sure there would be no shortage of ideas in the ‘Big Society’.  Applicants could pay a modest fee, to deter trivial applications.  Perhaps also there should be a cooling-off period for those who have been pressured into accepting cautions.  If cautions were judged by the same standards as the selling of financial services I am sure there would be found to be many cases of mis-selling.

I invite the administrator to contact me directly if they wish to know more detail about the case which has caused me to reflect on these issues.