Bar Associations in parts of Scotland are taking further action in support of their campaign for better rates for legal aid lawyers, with at least two now withdrawing from court and police duty schemes.

According to announcements on social media, criminal defence solicitors in the Scottish Borders are withdrawing from all duty schemes, as is the Aberdeen Bar Association, which has called on other bars for support.

No defence solicitors were present to cover custody hearings at Aberdeen Sheriff Court over the New Year holiday, with the result that some accused were kept in custody for an extra two days.

Ian Woodward-Nutt, President of the Aberdeen Bar Association, said: "It should be clear to any impartial observer that urgent action is required now.

"Failing that, over the months ahead, it will inevitably be the case that further areas of work, normally covered by criminal legal aid lawyers, will become the subject of similar action."

Today the Edinburgh Bar Association announced that its members would also withdraw from all duty solicitor schemes at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, effective from Monday 31 January.

In a statement on its website the EBA said: "We have engaged at every opportunity to try and inform others and draw attention to our plight. It is not a situation that can endure lengthy consultation with gaps of several months between meetings. Help is needed now, or the criminal justice system will simply stop functioning.

"If this is allowed to happen, the impact on all accused, complainers and witnesses will be unprecedented.

"We hope that such an unprecedented step as withdrawing our service from the duty rolls will call the necessary attention to our situation, and the urgency of it. We would also call on other bar associations nationwide to follow us in taking this action."