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


2015

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

2014

  • 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

2013

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

2012

  • 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

2012

2011

  • 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

2011

2010

  • PAS’s first case at the Supreme Court

2009

  • Community Care Caseworker post established

2007

  • Unique legal outreach at women’s prisons began.

2007

2006

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

2004

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

2002

  • Women Prisoners’ Caseworker post established

1997

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

1997

1996

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

1996

1994

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

1993

  • 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

1993

1991

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

1991

“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.”