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MEET THE HCLC SUPPORTER - Kim Evans from The Justice Gap


Kim Evans gimpIn May, Hackney Community Law Centre (HCLC) took part in the 10th London Legal Walk organised by the London Legal Support Trust.


The London Legal Walk is a 10km sponsored walk around some of London’s legal landmarks. It is (probably!) the largest annual gathering of lawyers in the world. Walking in teams as their court, law firm, chambers or law school, walkers raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for agencies who provide free legal advice to those in desperate need and who cannot afford to pay for services.


This year, we were delighted that campaigning legal journalists The Justice Gap chose to walk in aid of HCLC. The Justice Gap's Editor Jon Robins is a HCLC Patron and former resident of Hackney, and Justice Gap journalist Mary-Rachel McCabe is a former HCLC intern who now sits on our Board of Directors. Kim Evans (pictured right) is one of The Justice Gap's Commissioning Editors.  


Kim also used to work in Dalston.  This year, she threw her heart and soul into The Justice Gap's Legal Walk fundraising efforts for HCLC and helped to raise an amazing Ј1,600 for our work. We are so grateful to Kim and want to share her own inspiring personal story with other HCLC supporters.  



‘Hackney Police Officer’

Kim Evans grew up in Crystal Palace in South London before moving to Maidstone. She left school at sixteen, did a secretarial course and became a secretary.  As soon as she turned eighteen, however, Kim applied to become a police officer - it was what she had always wanted to do. After police training college at Hendon, Kim was posted to Dalston Police Station, in Hackney, as a Women Police Constable (WPC). 


Ridley Road market was part of her beat. “I loved the market stall traders in Dalston.  I remember them always filling my pockets with fruit and talking to me about music whenever I passed the reggae stall. I loved the diversity of Dalston; it was colourful and noisy with so many different cultures”. Following her WPC stint in Dalston, Kim was promoted to Woman Detective Constable (WDC) and was sent to work in Barking.  At one point, she was attached to famous ‘flying squad’ where she worked on the Brinks Matt Bullion enquiry.


It was whilst a police officer that Kim became increasingly interested in the Law.   ‘Finding her niche’ After leaving the police force following thirteen years of service, Kim moved to Hastings and applied for a job as a paralegal with a local criminal defence law firm.  This was despite the fact that she had no formal legal qualifications. Kim says that going to university was not something ever talked about in her family when she was growing up. However, as a result of Kim’s professional background as a police officer, the law firm sent her to the local police station to advise clients under arrest and in custody. 


This, in turn, led to her becoming more involved in case preparation and full-on legal work.  One day, one of her colleagues suggested that Kim apply to the Police Accredited Representative Scheme and get formally accredited to represent defendants in the police stations.


That same colleague also warned her, however, that nobody ever passed the exams required…. “That was like a red rag to a bull to me! Because of that, I had to do it.  I ended up passing – first time - all three of the exams you had to take to get accredited. I realised that I’d found my niche representing people who were at their lowest or at the worst moment of their lives or just completely vulnerable.  I was a voice or shield for them. I ended up working as a police rep for 10 years.  I was on call 7 days a week, 24 hours a day”. There was then an economic downturn and Kim faced the prospect of redundancy. “I was offered a job working as an assistant editor to Andrew Keogh from Crimeline.  I was researching and editing. It was fantastic because I was at the cutting edge. I had to read every judgment that came out of the Court of Appeal. I was assessing what was relevant to practitioners, what would affect them and then getting that information out to them”.


Kim and Jon Kim with Jon Robins at the launch of his new book -'The first miscarriage of justice - the 'unreported and amazing case' of Tony Stock'   ‘Meeting Jon Robins’ When the Government started discussing the introduction of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) bill in 2011 there was some talk that access to legal advice in police stations might be cut.  Jon Robins went to profile Kim for the Guardian newspaper and spent some time shadowing her at Hastings Police station and meeting some of her clients.


(*Read Jon's article from that day HERE*). “After that first meeting, I kept in touch with Jon. He was in the process of setting up The Justice Gap, which would be about translating the law to ordinary people.  Jon felt I’d be able to help him with that because of my background and so I became his Commissioning Editor. We took the Justice Gap right from starting it up to winning the 2013 Halsbury Legal Award for Legal Journalism”.   ‘Covering the Sam Allam case at the Court of Appeal’


After becoming involved with the Justice Gap, Kim found herself on the press bench covering miscarriage of justice victim Sam Hallam's second appeal at the Court of Appeal for the Guardian newspaper. (*See Kim's Sam Hallam article for the Guardian HERE*). “I didn’t sleep for a week. It was shortly after the days when we were first allowed to tweet from court.  Just after the court had adjourned for lunch on the 17th May 2012, I realised that the prosecutor had come back into court and was about to say something big.  I was right. The prosecutor said that the CPS would be withdrawing their challenge to Sam’s appeal. There was then absolute uproar in the court. It was like a football match. Everyone realised that Sam was finally going home. In all my years in the criminal justice system I had never experienced anything like that. It was so exciting”.


Kim says she has the deepest respect for colleagues working on cases like Sam Hallam’s. “Miscarriages of Justice are generally prevented by lawyers like Matt Foot (of Birnberg Peirce solicitors), Henry Blaxland QC (of Garden Court Chambers) and Nathaniel Mathews (of Hackney Community Law Centre) going that extra mile. I have this deep and abiding respect and love for my colleagues who don’t turn the other way, that say “you know what, this is hard work, we don’t get paid a lot but I can’t turn away from you and let you rot in prison”. Kim and M-R


Kim with Mary-Rachel McCabe

‘Interest in Social Welfare Law’ Alongside criminal law, Kim also became interested in social welfare law when she realised that all of her clients in the police station did not just have one problem but a a combination – mental health, drugs, housing, education. “It was an accumulation of failure of services across the board. When you end up in the Criminal Justice system as a drug addict all people see is a drug addict.  I spoke to one of my clients who was a habitual shoplifter.  Her shoplifting had only started when she was prescribed a class 'A' drug for scoliosis of the spine. I found that people couldn’t be easily dismissed”.   ‘There but for the grace of God go we’


As far as Kim’s concerned, Chris Grayling, the current Justice Secretary, is sowing seeds of division in society. “You the hardworking tax payer, you the feckless criminal. He hasn’t seen the types of clients I’ve represented – the woman suffering from severe depression because of her husband’s terminal illness, the mother who helped with the assisted suicide of a disabled daughter. Those people were not feckless, they weren’t even criminals. They were all “there but the grace of God go we”. I am passionate that those people should be represented and cared for and looked after. They’re behind locked doors and out of sight with all the stuff that goes on in the police station. We rely on the state to care for those in custody but we also need people who will be there to protect them and that’s what lawyers can do. They’re the only ones who can gain access. Lawyers have to be kind and go that extra mile, and be on the alert for injustices”.   ‘Hackney Community Law Centre and the London Legal Walk 2014’


So why did Kim get involved in fundraising for the 2014 London Legal Walk? “To support lawyers like Nathaniel Mathews and Hackney Community Law Centre. I like the fact that the walk brings together the whole legal profession. It’s almost like a celebration of advice agencies’ work. I believe in what legal advice agencies do. So many of my friends do this type of work. I know how hard they work and how passionate they are about it. I’m lucky I have a bit of a platform on twitter and it’s good for me to be able to use that in a positive way. Plus, you get to have a really nice drink at the end of it!”   What next for Kim?I’m going to be working with a good barrister friend of mine to raise funds to set up a charity that will represent women in custody wherever they are in the world. There has to have been an element of injustice for us to help.  There can never be too many people representing Miscarriage of Justice victims”.  


*HCLC is very very grateful to the wonderful Kim Evans and all her colleagues at The Justice Gap for supporting our law centre and other law centres at this year’s London Legal Walk. You can watch the superb video that Kim commissioned for our London Legal Walk HERE.*