Legal Services Research Center

London, United Kingdom

Legal Services Research Center

London, United Kingdom
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Patel A.,Legal Services Research Center | Balmer N.J.,Legal Services Research Center | Balmer N.J.,University College London | Pleasence P.,University College London
International Journal of Consumer Studies | Year: 2012

In common with a number of other developed western states, the UK has seen significant growth of consumer debt over the past three decades. In tandem, there has been an associated increase on the demand for debt advice. Using data from the English and Welsh Civil and Social Justice Survey, this article explores how debt problems are experienced across the population and goes on to contextualize the distinct nature of debt problems and their relationship to other problems of everyday life. Findings reaffirm the increased vulnerability to debt problems experienced by socially excluded groups, such as lone parents, those with a long-term illness or disability and the people with no academic qualification. Results go further to demonstrate that vulnerability is not constant but is also influenced by broader economic and social factors; in particular, findings demonstrate how problems directly associated with the economic downturn increase vulnerability to unmanageable debt and financial difficulty. Given this relationship, and the prolonged longevity of debt problems compared with other problem types, we would expect to see an increase in the experience of debt problems as the effects of the recession become fully apparent, and for some time thereafter. Discussion focuses upon the policy relevance of findings to frontline debt counselling and advice services operating within an increasingly tighter financial environment. Specifically, emphasis is placed upon potential benefits of offering debt counselling and advice as part of an array of other social welfare advice services, and even working across sectors to get better penetration into hard to reach groups.


Pleasence P.,University College London | Kemp V.,University College London | Kemp V.,Legal Services Research Center | Balmer N.J.,University College London | Balmer N.J.,Legal Services Research Center
Criminal Law Review | Year: 2011

January 2011 marks the 25th anniversary of the introduction of the unequivocal right of police station detainees to obtain advice from a solicitor. However, while this right is a fundamental safeguard to procedural propriety, no large-scale investigation of the rates at which advice is requested or received has been undertaken in over a decade. This study, the most extensive yet undertaken, draws on data extracted from 30,921 custody records, across 44 police stations in 4 police force areas. We find the advice request rate has risen less than recent studies indicate. We also find substantial variation in request rates between police stations and police forces, after accounting for other factors, and a sharp drop in the request rate between ages 16 and 17. This drop supports proposals to extend requirements around appropriate adults to 17 year olds. We argue that, at a time of change in police station operation and advice provision, further monitoring of, and investigation into, the operation of the right to advice is required. © 2011 Thomson Reuters (Legal) Limited.


Denvir C.,Legal Services Research Center | Denvir C.,University College London | Balmer N.J.,Legal Services Research Center | Balmer N.J.,University College London | And 2 more authors.
Ageing and Society | Year: 2014

As an increasing number of Government services have moved away from traditional modes of provision to online formats, there has been a corresponding need to ensure greater access to the internet. Although older people (those over 60) are least likely of all age groups to have access to the internet in their homes, the internet holds much potential as an information and advice resource for those older people who may find it difficult to access advice over the telephone or in person. Realising this potential extends beyond issues of physical access; consideration must necessarily be given to issues of internet literacy and the inclination of this cohort to utilise what may be new and unfamiliar technology. This paper examines these matters in the context of the resolution of everyday problems with a legal dimension. Looking first at the use of the internet for information and advice seeking related to such problems, we find that those aged over 60 demonstrate the least use of the internet for problems with a legal dimension. Simultaneously, those aged over 60 are also the group with the lowest level of home access - a particular issue given that for over 60-year-olds, home access is a far stronger determinant of internet use for problems than it is for other age groups. Examining use of the internet for advice seeking over the last decade, findings demonstrate the existence of a general increase in use amongst all age groups over time, albeit with a lower rate of growth amongst those currently over 60. As an indication of future growth, this will have implications for the provision of services. Whilst the 'young old' will utilise the internet to a greater degree and will require websites which are tailored to their needs, those individuals at the older end of the age spectrum may best be served by continued access to face-to-face or outreach advice. The implications these findings pose for policy makers in setting priorities in the remit of online service provision are discussed, with results having particular relevance in England and Wales given planned changes to civil legal aid. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012.


Denvir C.,Legal Services Research Center | Denvir C.,University College London | Balmer N.J.,Legal Services Research Center | Balmer N.J.,University College London | Buck A.,Legal Services Research Center
Journal of Social Policy | Year: 2012

Previous studies have highlighted the paucity of knowledge possessed by people in a number of jurisdictions with regard to specific legal issues and processes, yet what has not been fully understood is the practical impact of this lack of knowledge. This paper looks at how knowledge of rights affects the resolution of civil justice problems. Data were extracted from a large-scale survey of adults' experience of rights problems throughout England and Wales (10, 537 adult respondents). The results demonstrated that most individuals were not aware of their rights at the time the problem occurred (64.8 per cent). Knowledge was shown to be poorest amongst those with mental illness, those without higher qualifications and those renting their homes. Problems where knowledge was poor included clinical negligence, welfare benefits and neighbours issues. Knowledge did not appear to be related to a particular problem-solving strategy but had an impact on the fulfilment of objectives and the obtaining of advice. Our findings depart from existing literature by indicating that knowledge of rights alone is not associated with legal self-sufficiency in terms of a reduced dependence upon legal advice services. We find, however, that individuals, with knowledge of rights, experience better outcomes when they opt to handle their problem alone. Accordingly, the presence or absence of knowledge of rights may be a useful proxy measure of legal advice need and relevant to the process of legal aid rationing. Our findings highlight the role that Public Legal Education (PLE) (both 'rights-based education' and 'just-in-time/self- help') may play in disposing of less complex problems, while presenting a strong case for the continued availability of free legal advice services. The research is discussed in the context of the recently announced legal aid reforms in England and Wales and their anticipated impact. © 2012 Cambridge University Press.


Balmer N.J.,Legal Services Research Center | Balmer N.J.,University College London | Pleasence P.,Legal Services Research Center | Pleasence P.,University College London | Buck A.,Legal Services Research Center
Health and Social Care in the Community | Year: 2010

Psychiatric morbidity has been shown to be associated with the increased reporting of a range of social problems involving legal rights ('rights problems'). Using a validated measure of psychiatric morbidity, this paper explores the relationship between psychiatric morbidity and rights problems and discusses the implications for the delivery of health and legal services. New representative national survey data from the English and Welsh Civil and Social Justice Survey (CSJS) surveyed 3040 adults in 2007 to explore the relationship between GHQ-12 scores and the self reported incidence of and behaviour surrounding, rights problems. It was found that the prevalence of rights problems increased with psychiatric morbidity, as did the experience of multiple problems. It was also found the likelihood of inaction in the face of problems increased with psychiatric morbidity, while the likelihood of choosing to resolve problems without help decreased. Where advice was obtained, psychiatric morbidity was associated with a greater tendency to obtain a combination of 'legal' and 'general' support, rather than 'legal' advice alone. The results suggest that integrated and 'outreach' services are of particular importance to the effective support of those facing mental illness. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Denvir C.,Legal Services Research Center | Balmer N.J.,Legal Services Research Center | Balmer N.J.,University College London | Pleasence P.,Legal Services Research Center | Pleasence P.,University College London
Interacting with Computers | Year: 2011

Internet use and access in the UK has increased rapidly in the last decade, with the concept of 'information superhighway' recognised as an axiom of Internet technology. Despite this, few studies have sought to investigate the incidence of use of the Internet as an advice resource outside of the health information arena. With an increasing impetus in the public sector towards the provision of online delivery mechanisms for civic orientated activities, including advice provision, it is timely to better understand the appropriateness of online advice seeking. Focusing on young people aged between 18 and 24 years, we investigated how much the Internet was used to obtain information about everyday problems with a legal dimension, who used it, how it was used and how successful respondents were in searching for information online. Data were extracted from a large-scale household survey of adults' experience of problems with a legal dimension conducted across England and Wales (10,512 adult respondents). Results revealed significant growth in the use of the Internet to obtain information about such problems, rising from 4% in 2001 to around 18% in 2008. The responses of the 18-24 year olds to the survey illustrated that despite having comparatively high levels of Internet access, this age group utilised it to a lesser degree than similarly 'connected' age cohorts, and were less successful when doing so. This study highlights aspects of the second digital divide, going beyond access to explore use and outcomes of use. Implications for the future of the Internet in providing information and advice for young people, are discussed. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Kemp V.,Legal Services Research Center
Criminal Law Review | Year: 2013

In a recent statistical analysis of police custody records we found variations between police stations both in the take-up of legal advice and also in the average length of time people were held in custody. To further explore unobserved factors which might impact on such variations a qualitative study has been undertaken of four large police stations. While there were found to be factors in common between police stations which related to delays, there were other factors which were specific to one or two stations only. There were also found to be implications for delays creating potential barriers to legal advice. Such factors raise questions about the extent to which PACE continues to provide sufficient legal safeguards for those held in police custody. © 2014 Thomson Reuters (Professional) UK Limited.


PubMed | Legal Services Research Center
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Health & social care in the community | Year: 2010

Psychiatric morbidity has been shown to be associated with the increased reporting of a range of social problems involving legal rights (rights problems). Using a validated measure of psychiatric morbidity, this paper explores the relationship between psychiatric morbidity and rights problems and discusses the implications for the delivery of health and legal services. New representative national survey data from the English and Welsh Civil and Social Justice Survey (CSJS) surveyed 3040 adults in 2007 to explore the relationship between GHQ-12 scores and the self reported incidence of and behaviour surrounding, rights problems. It was found that the prevalence of rights problems increased with psychiatric morbidity, as did the experience of multiple problems. It was also found the likelihood of inaction in the face of problems increased with psychiatric morbidity, while the likelihood of choosing to resolve problems without help decreased. Where advice was obtained, psychiatric morbidity was associated with a greater tendency to obtain a combination of legal and general support, rather than legal advice alone. The results suggest that integrated and outreach services are of particular importance to the effective support of those facing mental illness.

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