People in England and Wales pay more for a cup of coffee each day than the Government spends on the justice system, senior lawyers have claimed.

The Bar Council described justice as being “in the reduced aisle” at the supermarket as a report suggested just 39p per person per day was being spent on law and order, which it likened to being “less than the price of a red pepper in Tesco”.

The body, which represents barristers around the country, said the findings from a study it commissioned reveal the “true scale of Britain’s neglect of law and order” as the backlog of criminal cases tips over half a million in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Compiled by economists Professor Martin Chalkley and Alice Chalkley, the review analysed spending on prisons, probation, courts, legal aid, prosecution, as well as the police between 2010 and 2019.

According to the report:

– In 2019, justice spending in England and Wales was £144 per person, or 39p per person per day.

– This is low compared with budgets of European countries and England and Wales had experienced the largest percentage reduction.

– Overall funding for justice plummeted 24% in real terms between 2010 and 2019, resulting in a 29% drop in spending per person in real terms between 2010-2019.

– To restore spending to 2010 levels per person, after adjusting for inflation, an extra £2.48bn of spending on the justice system and an extra £2.33bn for the police would be required – an extra 22p per person per day.

Bar Council chairman Amanda Pinto QC said: “Law and order is as much about keeping the public safe as it is about access to justice.

“We’ve seen what a lack of funding for law and order achieves, rising crime, low detection rates, long delays to cases with many collapsing before they get anywhere near a court, victims of crime denied justice, and all because government after government has scrimped on the justice budget.

“Compared to other countries and other Whitehall budgets, UK justice is the poor relation.

Legal aid walk-out
Barristers have previously staged strikes against funding cuts to the legal system (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“For just small change, 22p per person more, the Government could put its money where its mouth is, commit to boosting law and order and protecting the public by investing the price of a packet of Hobnobs per person per week in the whole justice system.”

A Government spokesman said: “This Government is committed to restoring confidence in the justice system.

“We are providing the biggest increase in police funding in over a decade as part of our plan to put 20,000 additional officers on the streets.

“We are also investing more than £1 billion to reform and modernise courts £85 million for the CPS to manage caseloads, and hundreds of extra prosecutors are being appointed.

“Together with work to build more than 13,000 new prison places we are taking action to deliver justice and keep the public safe.”