About the PLEAS Task Force
For all current and future information about Public Legal Education see the new website of the Public Legal Education Network (Plenet) at www.plenet.org.uk.
Summary of the PLEAS Task Force
In September 2004 three not-for-profit organisations – the Advice Services Alliance, the 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 was circulated widely for consultation, the results of which were published in June 2005, as Public Legal Education: a Proposal for Development.
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.
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. A list of Task Force members can be viewed from the link on this page.
What the Task Force did
Starting in January 2006, the Task Force met over a period of one year to develop and promote the case for a national strategy for public legal education.
The Task Force consulted across a range of governmental, professional and voluntary sector interests, with:
- legal professionals
- advice workers
- legal educators
- life long learning professionals
- citizenship educators
- social and community groups and leaders
- relevant government departments and agencies
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 Report Creating capable citizens: the role of public legal education, presents that analysis and recommends a coherent and realistic development strategy for the improvement and spread of PLE today.
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 form government.
The report, and a 2 page summary of it, can be downloaded from this site. Research undertaken for the Task Force by the Legal Services Research Centre can also be downloaded.