Legal Aid Census

An opportunity for the legal aid sector to come together, demonstrate the incredible impact of legal aid and convince policy-makers of what needs to be done to save legal aid and access to the justice system

Launched on 12 April 2021, the Legal Aid Census brought together an independent team of academics from Newcastle, Cardiff and UCL universities to work alongside our staff and Advisory Committee of experienced, expert legal aid practitioners. It aims to influence government policy by gathering robust, irrefutable evidence about the state of the legal aid profession and to make evidence-based recommendations to ensure it is viable and sustainable.

Information on legal aid providers has been scant since the Legal Services Research Centre was closed in 2013. It is difficult to find accurate, comparative data from earlier periods and what data we do have tells us very little about the viability of the sector. We know very little else about the legal aid ecosystem and how it relates to the justice system as a whole. In order for future reform to be evidence-based, we need data from each and every provider and organisation.

The Legal Aid Census has been in the planning for over a year. The data that we gathered is currently being analysed and the report will be published in the autumn in time to feed into Sir Christopher Bellamy’s Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid. This research is also closely aligned to the Westminster Commission Inquiry into the Sustainability of Legal Aid co-ordinated by the APPG.

We are using the following hashtags #WeAreLegalAid  #LegalAidCensus and #StrengthInNumbers to promote the work across social media.

The research has garnered a huge amount of support across the sector, with signatories including the Criminal Bar Association, The Bar Council and Shelter signing up to a joint open letter.