Independent Evaluation of the Public Defender Service (PDS) published by the Stationery Office

Wednesday 4 July 2007

The results of a major, independent evaluation of the Public Defender Service (PDS) in England and Wales have today been published by The Stationery Office. (4 July 2007)

The research involved a detailed comparison of the PDS and private criminal defence solicitors’ firms in six areas of the country (Birmingham, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Swansea, Pontypridd and Cheltenham). The main findings of the research were:

  • that the PDS has been able to deliver high quality criminal defence, in most instances of an equal or higher standard than the best private criminal defence firms.
  • that the PDS has established a reputation amongst clients and other criminal justice professionals for the robust and independent defence of its clients.
  • that during its initial three years of operation (2001-4), when the PDS was building its client base, it incurred substantially higher costs than other criminal defence providers ... More recent evidence suggests that with a larger client base, the PDS can operate more efficiently.

The research was conducted by a team consisting of Professors Lee Bridges of the University of Warwick; Ed Cape of the University of the West of England; Richard Moorhead of the University of Cardiff; and Avrom Sherr of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. All of the authors are available for comment. Professor Avrom Sherr, of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, can be contacted on 020 7862 5859.