In such a circumstance, the true number of violations is hidden from us. This is because the organisations which report justiciable problems (i.e. advice service providers or the courts) can only count the cases which actually reach them. If these organisations do not have the resources to make their services widely available, or if people do not approach them in the first place because they have not been informed of their rights, then the official statistics are likely to underestimate the true extent of justiciable problems (which means less resources are deployed, less problems are dealt with, less are reported, and so on and so on...).
So when the Welsh Government invited The Civic Research Initiative (together with our friends at Wavehill) to produce truly independent estimates of the number of justiciable problems in Wales we lept at the chance! Our figures represent the total demand, rather than just the reported demand, for advice on justiciable problems in each Welsh local authority area. Our focus was on problems which would potentially be covered by civil law, rather than criminal law, and we looked at six types of problems:
- Debt problems
- Housing and neighbourhood problems
- Welfare benefit problems
- Consumer and finance problems
- Employment problems
- Discrimination problems
The Welsh Government were true to their word and the report is genuinely independent. In fact, the process was overseen by practitioners from the National Advice Network who are clearly passionate about improving access to advice services and were an absolute pleasure to work with.
Our report is available here: