|A survey of public knowledge, access and use of legal services was undertaken in 1992 in order to obtain up-to-date information. A nationally representative sample of 2,439 households participated in the survey and this bulletin sets out the key information obtained from the survey interviews. The survey, which was commissioned by The Scottish Office Legal Studies Research Group, was undertaken by The MVA Consultancy.|
- The evaluation found that the schemes had facilitated the granting of bail to accused persons who would otherwise have been remanded in custody in 19% of the cases in Edinburgh Sheriff Court and 29% in Glasgow Sheriff Court.
- There was no greater incidence of alleged bail abuse among accused people who were released on bail on the basis of positive information provided by the bail officers than among those granted bail but for whom positive information was absent or irrelevant.
- Those on bail who were 25 years or older and who had no convictions in the previous three years were found to present a low risk of being charged with further offending whilst on bail.
- The research showed that the costs of producing bail information reports in Glasgow and Edinburgh were broadly comparable. The schemes did not result, overall, in appreciable cost-savings to the criminal justice system, for a number of reasons. However evidence was found that they decreased the cost of court appearances by reducing: the time per case spent in court; and the need for the cost of overnight remands.
- Good working relationships with courts users (such as fiscals, sheriffs and defence agents) were shown to be essential both in the planning of bail services and their operation.
- Effective liaison arrangements with other service providers enhanced the reliability and credibility of schemes.
- There was evidence that better targeting of cases could be achieved when adequate information was provided by fiscals about the cases for which bail was to be opposed.
|This bulletin provides a summary of a report produced by The MVA Consultancy for the Legal Studies Research Group of The Scottish Office in 1992. The MVA report is based on a consumer survey of knowledge, accessibility and use of legal services in Scotland and was commissioned to provide up-to-date information about an area in which there had been little large-scale research since the Royal Commission's survey 1 in 1978 of public attitudes and experiences in relation to legal problems and legal services in Scotland.|
|The MVA consumer survey was informed by a number of previous studies 2 and built upon research by Pinpoint into the location of and access to solicitors in Scotland published by The Scottish Office Central Research Unit in 1990 3. That study found that 98% of the population in Scotland is within either 5 miles (urban Districts) or 10 miles (rural Districts) of at least one solicitor's office. It also showed that around 10% of the population in Scotland's rural Districts live outwith a 10 mile radius from at least 2 different solicitors' firms.|
|The Pinpoint study, however, focused solely on legal services provided by solicitors' firms. Legal services are undertaken by a wide variety of institutions, organisations and agencies including the Faculty of Advocates, law centres, advice agencies (for example Citizen's Advice Bureaux and Money Advice Centres). There are others which do not exist primarily to provide legal advice but do so in some instances, for example, voluntary organisations, trades unions, motoring associations and professional bodies.|
|Furthermore, the research on location of and access to solicitors in Scotland did not collect sufficient information to enable full analysis of access. Thus factors that can have an important effect on access, such as the extent of the general public's knowledge of legal services in their locality, their ability to travel and the availability of public transport, their use of legal services and their expectations of the services received and whether they were satisfied with them, remained unexamined.|
|The specific aims of the survey of legal services were: |
- to establish levels of knowledge about the provision of legal services;
- to identify the accessibility of legal services and to determine how far it is reasonable to travel to seek legal advice;
- to identify the main sources of advice and the use made of these services;
- to establish levels of satisfaction with the legal services received;
- to examine the extent of knowledge of complaints procedures.
|The survey was intended to encompass legal services provided by a range of organisations, including but not restricted to solicitors' firms, and obtained information about different respondents with differing characteristics, in particular persons who had used legal services in 1991, those who had not used legal services in 1991, those living in cities, urban areas, small towns and rural areas.|
|Limitations of the data|
|It was not possible as part of the survey design to check respondents' perceived knowledge of the legal services available to them with the actual provision of legal services in their areas. The survey results in relation to knowledge of legal services, therefore, should be regarded as measures of public perceptions of the provision of legal services rather than a description of what actually exists on the ground. Nevertheless, data on perception can make a valuable contribution to an understanding of the use of legal services.|
|Knowing about legal services|
|Finding Legal Services|
|High levels of awareness of the location of solicitors, Citizens' Advice Bureaux (CABx) and the courts were reported in the survey.|
|Just over two thirds (67%) of respondents could name the solicitor's office most convenient for them. Among those who had used a solicitor's office during the previous year, this proportion rose to three quarters (75%) while among those who had not, the proportion was rather lower at 62%.|
|Twenty nine percent of respondents either did not know how many solicitors' offices were in their area or thought there were none. One in ten respondents knew of one and well over half could name more than one solicitor's office in their locality.|
|Nearly three quarters (71%) of respondents could name the CAB most convenient for them. Among those who had used a CAB during the previous year this proportion was slightly higher (at 77%) than among those who had not, where it was slightly lower (67%).|
|Over half (54%) of the respondents did not know how many CABx, law centres and advice centres there were in their locality. Around one third (34%) thought there was only one such centre and only 12% knew of more than one in their area.|
|A very high proportion of respondents (90%) could name the court nearest to their home. This proportion was almost the same for those who had and had not used the court: 92% for users compared to 89% for non-users.|
|Selecting legal services|
|The majority of respondents said that they would go to a solicitor under most circumstances. Respondents, however, were more likely to prefer to visit a CAB if they had financial problems, if they had problems with noisy neighbours or if they had purchased faulty goods. Forty three percent of respondents said that they would use other means in the case of noisy neighbours: nearly two thirds of those would prefer to deal with the neighbour personally while just under a quarter (23%) would contact a housing manager. Of the 28% who would use other means in the case of financial problems, nearly three quarters (73%) mentioned relatives or friends.|
|Table 1 shows the type of legal service that respondents would most prefer to approach for legal advice if they found themselves in a number of hypothetical circumstances.|
|Table 1 |
Preferred legal services for different legal problems (%)