During the last few legal aid crime tenders, practitioners have breathed a sigh of relief that at least the Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme has remained static. They have not been required to undergo reaccreditation.
That could be about to change.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has recently published a consultation on improvements to Police Station Representation Rules.
There are currently around 5400 representatives on the register, with around 200 new representatives gaining the qualification every year. What they do not tell us is the rate of attrition caused by people retiring and leaving the scheme.
You can download a PDF list of current members of the CLAS scheme from this page on the Law Society’s website:
Possibly they do not have that information about what appears to us to be a diminishing pool of criminal lawyers. In this context of a diminishing workforce, we are surprised that the SRA are considering amending the scheme at this stage.
As the 2022 Crime Contract only lasts for one year, there is a possibility that the LAA will launch a further tender in 2023 once the M0J has concluded its consideration of the criminal legal aid review. Firms therefore need to ensure that their Police Station Representatives and Duty Sols meet the new criteria.
The SRA’s External Examiner has recommended the following:
We strongly recommend that at the very least criminal lawyers read the draft accreditation scheme and particularly the proposed updated standards in Annex 1 which can be found on the SRA website on the following page:
Criminal Legal Aid firms should also take these into account in their future planning with regard to Police Station cover. Will your team meet the new competence criteria set out in Annex 1 including:
Part 1 – Underpinning Knowledge: Unit 1 Understanding the role of a police station representative
Part 2 – Underpinning Skills: Unit 2 Communication, negotiation, interviewing and advising skills
Part 3 – Standards of Performance: Unit 3 Responding to a request to attend
Firms should also remember that being a member of CLAS is one of the requirements contained in the Crime Supervisor Declaration (new version from October 2022)
For more information on legal aid tendering, visit our Legal Aid Agency Tendering section.
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