Public Legal Education and Support (PLEAS) Task Force
Professor Dame Hazel Genn DBE, Chair of the PLEAS Task Force
The Public Legal Education and Support (PLEAS) Task Force was set up in January 2006 to develop proposals for how to promote and improve public legal education. The Task Force was supported by the Department for Constitutional Affairs – now the Ministry of Justice.
Through a series of meetings, research exercises, and presentations, the Task Force developed an analysis of current PLE provision that includes an account of its strengths and of the main obstacles to the successful growth of PLE today.
The Task Force completed its work in July 2007 with the publication of a report ‘Developing capable citizens: the role of public legal education’ (172 KB). The Report presents an analysis of PLE and recommends a coherent and realistic development strategy for the improvement and spread of PLE.
A key recommendation was for a development strategy for pubic legal education (PLE) to be led by a new PLE organisation.
'We want imaginative, sustained, and successful PLE to become embedded in our culture as part of effective citizenship.
Professor Dame Hazel Genn July 2007
The Task Force concluded that PLE needs to develop and grow dramatically and can only do this through a development strategy which will create a coherent focus and identity for PLE, create a practitioner network and an online knowledge bank, develop and spread good practice, secure sustainable funding, and work to establish an independent PLE Centre to lead the strategy.
The new PLE Centre would need to be a small ‘can-do’ body that leads in all the key tasks of the strategy, bringing all of the stakeholders together in partnerships, and gaining high level support including from government.
Task Force membership
The Task Force was chaired by Professor Dame Hazel Genn DBE, who is the author of a number of influential research studies of the problems that people have in getting help from the legal system with day-to-day problems. Members were appointed because of their knowledge of and interest in public legal education and their willingness to champion the development of a national strategy.
In September 2004 three not-for-profit organisations, Advice Services Alliance, Citizenship Foundation and the Legal Action Group - got together to publish a discussion paper 'Towards a national strategy for public legal education'
The three organisations recognised that although there was a lot of activity around public legal education (PLE) in our society today, for example citizenship education, ‘financial capabilities’ training, or information on ‘how to’ deal with day-to-day problems, the many efforts made were piecemeal and didn’t really learn from one another. At the same time, the Government was keen to make the legal system more effective by helping people, in whatever ways might prove useful, to deal with their problems and disputes before they got serious enough to involve a tribunal or the courts - before things got in a real mess.
Towards a national strategy for public legal education (198 KB) was circulated widely for consultation, the results of which were published in June 2005, as Public Legal Education: a Proposal for Development (266 KB).
Following publication of the proposal, the three organisations entered into discussions with the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA), who in August 2005 agreed to support and fund an independent Task Force to develop a strategy for PLEAS.