What is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity (ND) refers to neurological variations in the way the human brain functions. Neurodivergent people may have received a medical diagnosis of autism, ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, Tourette Syndrome, Acquired Brain Injury or similar. A person who is not neurodivergent would be described as neurotypical (NT). Is neurodivergence a disability? People who are neurodivergent may… Read more

What happens if I am recalled to prison?

If you have been recalled to prison following a breach of your licence conditions, the Public Defender Service (PDS) may be able to help. The Public Protection Casework Section at the prison will issue a recall dossier within 24 hours. Contact us as soon as possible, as a written response is needed within 14 days… Read more

The Parole Board Rules 2019 – Challenging a Parole decision

There have been changes to the Parole process over recent months.  One of the most significant changes is that you can now challenge a Parole Board decision that was made on or after 29th July 2019. Who does it apply to and what are the criteria? The ability to challenge a Parole Board decision applies… Read more

POCA Section 22

There has been a significant rise across the UK in applications pursuant to section 22 Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). This section of POCA allows the Prosecution to ask the Court to reconsider the ‘available amount’ of a confiscation order where there was a disparity between the benefit figure and the original available amount, there… Read more

Prison Law

Having recently joined the Public Defender Service, I am very pleased to announce I will be working alongside colleagues in our other offices now providing prison law advice/advocacy in the North East from my base in Darlington. I am passionate about prison law. I commenced my legal career in 2003 as a Prison Law Secretary… Read more

PDS Lexcel Accreditation

On 1st February 2018 we announced that the Public Defender Service (PDS) had been awarded Lexcel accreditation; an award only given to those in the legal profession able to demonstrate the highest standards of practice management and client care. Such a quality mark is subject to annual review and assessment to ensure that the high… Read more

Introduction to the Sentencing Council’s new Child Cruelty Definitive Guideline

The Sentencing Council recently issued a new Definitive Guideline for Child Cruelty offences, applicable to defendants aged 18 or over who are sentenced in the Crown Court on or after 1 January 2019. The Sentencing Council is responsible for issuing guidelines which address overarching sentencing principles as well as specific types of offences. This aims… Read more

HMCTS Reforms

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is responsible for the administration of criminal, civil and family courts and tribunals in England and Wales. In collaboration with the Senior Judiciary and the MOJ, HMCTS is investing £1bn to reform the courts and tribunal system. Included in the reform programme is a proposal for an ‘online… Read more

We are recruiting Higher Courts Advocates

The Public Defender Service are seeking to recruit experienced criminal Higher Courts Advocates. As a qualified Barrister or Solicitor-Advocate, you will be passionate about criminal law, and have substantial experience in providing advice and representation in the Higher Courts. You will demonstrate advanced advocacy skills in a wide range of complex, serious and sensitive criminal… Read more

Public Defender Service – Vulnerable Witness Training

Recent years have seen a shift in the Courts’ approach to the cross examination of vulnerable witnesses, moving away from adversarial questioning to a more evidence-based approach. With Stephen Leslie QC as lead, the Public Defender Service (PDS) has successfully implemented this new philosophy. Facilitators were trained and a roll out of authorised exercises deployed… Read more