Bereaved families of people who have died in Police custody could be spared the ordeal of applying for Legal Aid.
Some 1,500 have died in UK Police Custody since 1990.
The issue of publically funded Legal advice and legal representation at Inquest, especially the means test, is to be considered as part of the Government’s post implementation review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.
At present, a deceased’s family has no automatic funding right for representation at an Inquest. They however, need a lawyer to ensure that they are able to play an effective role in the process. With a combination of grief, trauma and lack of familiarity with the rules and procedures of the court, it is wholly unfair for families to represent themselves during the whole process. For Inquests, Legal Help (the means tested advice and assistance level of Legal Aid) is available for family members. This can cover the preparation work associated with an Inquest, such as helping families to prepare written questions they would like the Coroner to ask.
Legal representation at the Inquest itself is available through the Exceptional Case Funding Scheme and is provided only where certain criteria are met.