The ‘chaotic’ handover to the new operator of the Defence Solicitor Call Centre (DSCC) may have left detainees unrepresented and caused firms to lose work, criminal solicitors have warned.
On 1 April Ventura, one of the biggest call centre operators, took over the running of the DSCC from First Assist, which had managed the service for the last 10 years.
Chairman of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association Mike Jones said: ‘The handover was chaotic. There were examples of police forces not being able to get through to the call centre and having to resort to the old-fashioned method of trying to call solicitors directly.
‘This resulted in delays in people receiving legal advice. No doubt there will be examples of detainees who were interviewed without a solicitor present. There is also the potential that solicitors will have lost out.’
He said things had improved but there are still reports of confusion about case allocation and solicitors being contacted directly by the police.
Paul Harris, president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association, said the handling of the changeover had caused national disruption, and complaints are being investigated to see if solicitors lost out on work.
A Legal Services Commission spokesman said the system had been fully tested before the handover.
A Ventura spokeswoman said: ‘The transition to Ventura brought a small amount of disruption to the service provided by the DSCC. Ventura reached its key performance measures within the first week of service provision and continues to provide a robust and reliable service.’