Citizens Advice research reveals public’s lack of faith in justice system
A research report published last month by Citizens Advice shows that the public have little confidence in the justice system to resolve their legal problems. The charity says if the government wants to ‘achieve a One Nation Justice system’, it has to become more responsive to ‘the needs of its users’.
The report, Responsive justice: how citizens experience the justice system, draws on public opinion polling and evidence from the network of Citizens Advice centres. It found:
•72 per cent of opinion polling respondents agreed that resolving their problems using the justice system was not worth the financial and emotional costs;
•less than half (48 per cent) believed that if they went to court, the outcome would be fair;
•only 39 per cent believed the justice system works well for citizens;
•fewer than one in five (17 per cent) believed it is easy for people on low incomes to access justice; and
•71 per cent reported that if they could not afford a lawyer, they’d ‘think twice’ before taking a case to court.
Feedback from staff and volunteers working on the front line reinforced the impression that the public are losing confidence in the justice system to resolve their problems. Nearly four in five reported an increase in the number of clients not choosing to follow up issues. They also believed that vulnerable people are increasingly left to fend for themselves in the justice system, with 53 per cent of staff and volunteers reporting that it was very unlikely or not possible for them to obtain legal aid.