Justice Minister Judith Collins officially opened the Dunedin Public Defence Service (PDS) office today.
The PDS provides an in-house legal aid service, through the use of salaried staff who work alongside contracted legal aid lawyers.
Ms Collins says the new Dunedin office will support the cost-effective, high quality legal aid system this Government is working towards.
“The PDS delivers quality defence services to some of the most vulnerable New Zealanders,” Ms Collins says.
“It is well regarded by judges, prosecutors and court staff, and it delivers great value for money.
The Dunedin office is the first PDS office to be officially opened in the South Island after operating out of temporary premises since November last year.
“The PDS is based on an internationally proven model of mixed private/ public legal aid provision.
“It is being established at New Zealand’s busiest courts, where there are enough criminal legal aid cases to support both the PDS and viable private sector criminal law practices.
“Establishing the PDS in those areas allows for benchmarking in terms of both costs and quality of service provided to legal aid clients,” Ms Collins says.
Ms Collins will officially open the Hawke’s Bay PDS next week, bringing the total number of PDS offices nationwide to nine.