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Justice Barred: the difficulties lawyers face in seeing clients in prison

22 January 2024

APL has today published a new report which illustrates widespread delays and difficulties lawyers face in getting to see their clients in prison.

Despite the exponential leap in the development of technologies in prison, exacerbated by Covid, these facilities are not equally and easily accessible to lawyers who need to see their clients to ensure justice is done.

This report shows that many lawyers are struggling to get access to their clients, both via video links and in person, with some prisons point-blank refusing to allow lawyers to use their video link facilities.  

Respondents to an APL survey identified 16 prisons that have told practitioners that they do not offer video links to solicitors.

Others have said they can only be used between Friday and Monday, or they offer appointments weeks or even months away. 

In a number of prisons in-person visits are extremely limited, with a slot just once a week, sometimes only in a busy visiting hall, with no privacy for confidential discussions. 

Even when a visit occurs in person, there can be huge difficulties on the day, including being denied authorised laptops or the person being brought to the visit late, or not at all, due to staff shortages or other issues in the prison.

Practitioners have experienced difficulties in getting through to prisons to book visits – there is no central system and every prison is different. 

The report calls for urgent steps to be taken to ensure efficient access to justice for everyone in prison.

The full report can be found here.