It is highly cost-effective
The Home Office estimated the annual cost of sexual offences to England and Wales as £12.2 billion. Around £9.8 billion of that results from the emotional and wellbeing consequences of sexual violence.
We estimate that a national rollout of legal advocacy for rape complainants would cost around £3.9 million annually in England and Wales. Widening the scope to include all sexual offences would increase the costs, however this would still be a fraction of the £12.2 billion the Home Office estimates sexual offences costs England and Wales each year.
International research tells us that legal advocacy improves a range of outcomes, including criminal justice satisfaction, better mental health, and retained employment. This can lead to economic savings elsewhere, such as in healthcare and lost employment costs.
It is estimated that each rape conviction prevents up to six further sexual offences (Westmarland et al., 2015) – saving untold human costs and an estimated £197,160 per conviction even after the cost of imprisonment.
We were easily able to recruit highly experienced solicitors in the pilot scheme, so although we know that people are turning away from criminal law because of the low pay, the use of salaried positions rather than legal aid will be an attractive prospect.
Importantly, the lawyers who worked in the pilot scheme all said they would continue with the role if it was an option and that they found the job incredibly rewarding. This is an important consideration for many people when making career choices.
“I think the whole thing was brilliant…I personally found it really enlightening.” (SVCA 1)
“I just thought this could be a game changer, this is really important.” (SVCA 3)