On a recent survey carried out by the Law Society of England, a large number of solicitors are the victim of threatening behaviours or violence associated with their work. More specifically, the report suggests one third of solicitors have been attacked or threatened. More than 1100 solicitors have taken part in this survey.
The result is as follows: around 1 in 8 (equivalent to 12%) respondents have encountered violence, over 1 in 4 (equivalent to 27%) have encountered threatening communications, and 1 in 3 (equivalent to 33%) have encountered threatening conduct. Only 20% of physical attacks on those solicitors were formally reported to the police. The majority of cases (around 90%) took place in a tribunal environment, a court or within the offices of the solicitors. More than 60% of the violent incidents happened to the solicitor of the opposing party.
This survey is considered the first of its kind in England, is a part of the annual employment report of solicitors. The results have shown that criminal defence professionals are at risk most, with nearly half of respondents reported more than 4 incidents over the last 5 years. Family lawyer s and prosecutors, who usually deal with significantly sensitive cases like child custody or divorce, had also been threatened. The results showed that:
– Approximately 70% of criminal defence lawyers, 61% of prosecutors, and 54% of family lawyers have been the victim of threatening behaviours.
– Around 40% of criminal defence lawyers, 19% of prosecutors, and 25% of family lawyers have been the victim of violence.
The survey results have also shown that the colleagues of these solicitors, who represent the opposite parties, only accounted for a small number of incidents, with around 1 in 7 involving violence and threats.
Reporting of these incidents was also low, and women seem to be less likely to report to the police than their men counterpart. Around 20% of violent cases were reported, while only 14.5% of threatening communications and 12.5% of threatening incidents were reported.
The survey findings are really alarming. People usually turn to solicitors in Chester, or whatever region they are based, for advice and help when they have to deal with very difficult and stressful times in their life. It is essential that lawyers, who choose a legal career because they want to help other people, would feel secure and safe while performing their professional responsibilities and duties.
The police should make sure that there will be no tolerance for these violent threats to legal professionals, or indeed anyone offering a service to the members of our public. In fact, this has been recently emphasised by the English Parliament to protect the retail workers. Also, we should be aware of their intention to introduce new measures to enhance the rights of witnesses and victims of crime.