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We are clear we will continue to uphold everyone's right to a fair trial. Quality assured lawyers will still be available—just as they are now. The Legal Aid Agency would ensure as part of the tendering process that all providers are capable of delivering the full range of criminal legal aid services under contract across their procurement areas.
The current crime contract includes provisions for accepting applications for crime contract work on behalf of a child or protected party and accepting instructions directly from a child (paragraphs 4.24-4.29 of spec: part A). However, any specific skills and competence of a solicitor dealing with a child are not covered by the crime contract. We have asked for views from respondents on the factors they feel we should consider when designing the criteria for any future procurement process, which could include the skills and experience necessary for dealing with children. We are carefully considering all responses to the consultation on these issues.