From personal and professional experience, it seems to me, it is not just that legal aid is practically not available when needed - including eceptional legal aid: - someone I know well was assessed over the phone in 5 minutes by a person who sounded like she was hardly out of her teens and - refused. It is also, the way formally available tools such as e.g. Judicial Review are advertised - on government web sites, hiding more information than providing, and certainly not inviting or facilitating. Any phone lines given are usually occupied.. and don't even the fonts used look forbidding? I may already have quoted the retired solicitor-husband of an acquaintance of mine: "Justice is practically only available for those who can pay for it." In England.
A few weeks ago, on BBC Radio 4, I heard Prof. Jay say (from memory) one of the deeper systemic changes that would have to be a lesson from the Abuse Scandals the Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is looking at was, would have to be that "all that disbelieving people with a mental capacity issue has to go'. The shocking implication, of course, being that disbelieving vulnerable potential or alleged victims is still wide-spread part of the culture in services. Having seen more than one example where this is not done with blatant disregard but with skilled sophistication, dressing up an inquiry so that nothing that comes out will hurt Management, I believe with skill, conscience and ethical clarity these issues can now be addressed by independent professionals.
A couple of weeks ago, a radio 4 programme described the situation in home care for the elderly as that - neglect and it did not do it tentatively. The facts of serious abuse cases, care companies failing is only the tip of the ice berg, and not all difficulties are du to shortfall in funding. oreviewing a Care Home, as I did for a time as part of my role as a social worker, it shows if the Care Home owner thinks of their residents as a means of making money first - rather than his role to facilitate their life in dignity. And such impressions can be read against current guidelines, policies and - for what they are worth CQC standards. If the practise falls short of those standards, then that will have to be reported - before a resident comes or even just feels less than comfortable. Thus far, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights has been a yard stick, to. However, even when that might not apply any longer, conscientous and detailed inspections/reviews and reports can protect standards. - Suffering in silence is never an option, in my view. I am available to assist.
The BBC Radio 4 programme recently dedicated 2 editions to the issue of appreciation of Judges - the type they apparently do not feel, the reason why there are so of them. I felt there was untypically more description than analysis in the programme. While Joshua Rosenberg stated that the appointment of p/t Judges - less experienced - can be a creating an issue of less quality as the are less experienced, on the reasons why there were so few applications for, if I remember correctly, almost 25% vacancies for High Court Judges, there seemed little clarity. Repeatedly, it was mentioned that there had been some pension cuts... Is that the whole picture, I wonder. Maybe I lack the imagination, but it seems difficult to comprehend that at a quite nice senior level of appointment this would be such an important point - unless the legal profession has so thoroughly been diverted to put commercial profit over - securing justice? With my little experience in civil proceedings over the last 5 years, I can't help wondering whether a missing link is not to be found in a speech by Mr Mostyn, a Judge in Family Court, a few years ago and published on the ministry of justice web site: He said "It is not the Judges' job to follow their preferences but to apply the Law." Ouch. Had I, as a lay person, not experienced how it can happen that a lesser experienced Judge may come to set aside complex and tiresome evidence to follow his 'preferences', I would have thought that quote simply left-wing propaganda. However, I think Mr Mostyn's implicit analysis points to a deeper issue. It seems to me the introduction of the HRA indeed creates a climate where Judges' decisions have to be accountable to principles of law over their - undoubtedly educated - opinion. That, from the inside, may feel as 'not being appreciated'''. If there is some truth in this thought, and I hope I am wrong, then it may take more than a new round of appointments to secure quality of Justice. It may take education of yet another generation of lawyers in order for them not only to live the principle of accountability (versus closing ranks?), but also to appreciate the widely and internationally recognised principles of Human Rights to be respected for what they are: Safeguards - and that includes full appreciation for policies introduced since the HRA such as No Secrets Act, Disability Discrimination Act and similar - intended, it seems to me, to truly embed the principles behind Human Rights in the British society, as a democratic society.