Reforms to criminal legal aid were introduced on 14 January 2008 and included the introduction of fixed fees for police station work. Prior to the introduction of these reforms a national re-tender of the General Criminal Contract, which provides access to legal aid work for providers, took place in October last year.
Of those firms that already held a contract, 2,295 re-tendered, while a further 90 applications were received from new providers. In total there has been a reduction of only 5 per cent. in the number of providers delivering Criminal Legal Aid work under the new contract, which also came into effect on 14 January. This has had no impact on the accessibility of legal advice to clients in criminal legal aid cases.