Travel times between the provider of legally aided services and the client would be most heavily influenced by the size and geography of the proposed procurement area. We have explored how best to divide England and Wales into procurement areas (areas within which we would invite tenders to provide the full range of services), which would be the areas within which services would be delivered. We based our assessment of the options set out in the consultation paper on data from October 2010 to September 2011 on the volume and value of the criminal legal aid defence work which exists in each specified areas. The decision on the size of the procurement area would influence the number of providers in that area.
We considered four options for the size of the procurement areas, outlined on page 47 of the consultation paper, and proposed that—with the exception of London, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire—procurement areas should be set by the current Criminal Justice System areas.
In the consultation, specific questions were asked about the suitability of the proposed procurement areas. We asked respondents for their views on what factors should be taken into consideration in designing the criteria against which to test applicants for a new contract. We set out a number of proposed conditions including a requirement to have or commit to acquiring premises that are accessible for clients. Officials are analysing the responses now with a view to publishing the Government response in the autumn.