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Research looks at criminal advocacy

The judiciary will be asked its opinions on the quality of criminal advocacy in research commissioned jointly by us and the Bar Standards Board (BSB).

The study will provide insight into the nature and extent of any particular concerns among the judiciary about the overall quality of advocacy.

Crispin Passmore, SRA Executive Director, Policy, said: “We expect solicitors to work to high standards in whatever area they practice, and our recent work to support advocacy in the youth courts is a good example of how we respond to concerns. Criminal advocacy is an area which has come under increased scrutiny from both a public and political perspective, however, there is very limited research on this area.”

Oliver Hanmer, BSB Director of Regulatory Assurance, said: “The BSB seeks to ensure that clients receive the highest standards of advocacy in every area of the law. This new project follows recent research by the BSB into advocacy in the youth courts. The judiciary rely upon good quality advocacy to support the proper administration of justice. They are therefore uniquely placed to comment upon standards of advocacy and we look forward to receiving their views”.

The Institute for Criminal Policy Research (ICPR) at Birkbeck, University of London, will be conducting the study. The ICPR team will interview 60 judges across all six circuits of England and Wales, and ask them about, among other things, what it means to be a ‘good’ advocate and the factors influencing the quality of advocacy. A final report is due to be published in the autumn.

In September 2013, Sir Bill Jeffrey was commissioned by the Ministry of Justice to provide an independent review of how criminal defendants are given independent legal representation in the courts of England and Wales.

The Institute for Criminal Policy Research (ICPR), based at Birkbeck, University of London, carries out multidisciplinary research into crime and the criminal justice system.