Our History

PAS is an independent charity founded by organisations including Liberty, NACRO, the Prison Reform Trust, and the Howard League for Penal Reform, to deal with the increasing demand for legal advice throughout England and Wales.

Apart from PAS, no other organisation gives free, expert legal advice and representation to adult prisoners. Find out what we do.

Our work has never been so essential, due to the drastic cuts made to Legal Aid. Around 80% of prison law matters are now beyond the Legal Aid remit, and prisoners can no longer use it to access advice on any of these matters from high street solicitors.

We do not accept funding from the Home Office or Prison Service as it may affect our independence.

Most of our funding comes from charitable Trusts and Foundations, but we gratefully seek contributions of any size from individual and corporate donors.

PAS timeline: key events


  • Court of Appeal allows PAS and Howard League for Penal Reform’s legal aid challenge
  • PAS launches new website


  • Awarded Centre of Excellence status by the London Legal Support Trust
  • Shortlisted for the Liberty Human Rights “Close to Home” Award.
  • PAS and Howard League for Penal Reform seek permission for judicial reviews against cuts to legal aid for prisoners

2014 1

2014 2


  • Nominated for the Una Padel Awards, run by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies


  • Awarded the Longford Prize
  • PAS clients won Childcare Resettlement Leave
  • Successfully defended prisoner’s right to keep legal reference book
  • PAS receives grant from Big Lottery Fund



  • Won LALY award for Best Legal Aid Firm
  • Brought change in prison policy around confiscation orders
  • PAS was granted permission to challenge the Prisoners’ Earnings Act



  • PAS’s first case at the Supreme Court


  • Community Care Caseworker post established


  • Unique legal outreach at women’s prisons began.



  • Settled two claims for damages for racial discrimination. First time PAS has obtained damages for prisoners under the Race Relations Act


  • Unique legal outreach at men’s prisons began
  • Race Discrimination Caseworker post established


  • Women Prisoners’ Caseworker post established


  • PAS begins to provide detailed information leaflets, and starts to distribute the Prisoners’ Legal Rights Group Bulletin



  • PAS legal staff wrote a key text book on prison law
  • PAS able to take volunteers due to increased space



  • Incentive and Earned Privileges Scheme, and Mandatory Drugs Tests introduced – results in rise in demand for advice from PAS


  • PAS cases led to Prison Service allowing prisoners to see their parole reports and be given reasons for refusal
  • Simon Creighton becomes PAS’ first solicitor
  • PAS successfully applied to the Legal Services Commission for a franchise to operate a legal aid scheme, and the organisation began taking on its own litigation



  • Prisoners’ Advice Service founded by organisations including Liberty, NACRO, Prison Reform Trust and Howard League for Penal Reform


“PAS’s Legal Advice Line is seen by myself and many others as a real lifeline as it is a way to access crucial information in a timely fashion. Without access to such a vital service many more cases of injustice would occur and go unchallenged.”