Lack of inquest legal aid for bereaved families a ‘false economy’

Legal Gavelsource: The Law Gazette
published: 31 October 2017

Bereaved families of people who have died in police custody could be spared the ordeal of applying for legal aid, the government has hinted.

Responding to Dame Elish Angiolini QC’s independent review of deaths and serious incidents in police custody, published yesterday, the government said the lord chancellor will review existing guidance ‘so that it is clear that the starting presumption is that legal aid should be awarded for representation of the bereaved at an inquest’ subject to the director of legal aid casework’s ‘overarching discretion’.

The government added: ‘It will be also be made clear that in exercising the discretion to disregard the means test, consideration should be given to the distress and anxiety caused to families of the bereaved in having to fill out complex forms to establish financial means following the death of a loved one. This work will be completed by the end of the year.’

Some 1,500 people have died in UK police custody since 1990.

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