New prison punishments introduced

New prison punishments introduced

For the first time, Governors will be able to impose “payback punishments” on prisoners who behave badly in jail, such as damaging prison property or being disrespectful to staff. Punishments will vary from prison to prison, but could include repairing broken items,...
The case of the missing prosecutor

The case of the missing prosecutor

The backlog of cases in the criminal courts continues to grow. At the same time, there appears to be a shrinking pool of advocates, in particular barristers, available to prosecute and defend cases. In relation to some of the more specialised work, in particular...
Jury Equity – A verdict of conscience

Jury Equity – A verdict of conscience

The recent case of HM Solicitor General v Trudi Warner has shone a light on a little-known but now increasingly prominent issue of “jury equity”. The issue is neatly summarised in this part of the judgment: The trial of a number of defendants affiliated...
Cutting Agents and Drugs Sentencing

Cutting Agents and Drugs Sentencing

It is widespread for drugs to contain an adulterant or cutting agent, and the presence of cutting agents often leads to arguments when it comes to sentencing. There are typically two scenarios. The first is where, during the police investigation, a large amount of...
Careless Talk Can Ruin Your Case

Careless Talk Can Ruin Your Case

It’s crucial for clients to understand that the information shared with their lawyer is privileged, meaning it will remain confidential in almost all circumstances. This rule, known as legal privilege, is a cornerstone of our justice system, providing you with a...
New Public Order Powers In Force

New Public Order Powers In Force

New public order powers to prevent individuals from causing repeated serious disruption came into force on 5th April 2024. The Government says that: “In recent years, we have seen an increase in protest tactics that are dangerous and cause serious disruption....
Fast Track Justice – For Some

Fast Track Justice – For Some

The government has introduced the Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill before Parliament; if passed, the resultant Act will automatically overturn convictions for certain offences linked to the Post Office Horizon scandal. The Post Office Horizon IT scandal has...
Monkey Business

Monkey Business

Measures have been signed into law recently to ban the keeping of primates as pets. The legislation brings in a licensing scheme setting strict rules to ensure that only private keepers who meet new welfare and licensing standards will be able to keep primates,...
New Prisoner Rules

New Prisoner Rules

The Prison and Young Offender Institution (Adjudication) (Amendment) Rules 2024 come into force on 31 May 2024 and will make a number of important changes in relation to prisoner discipline and punishment. These changes are intended to improve behaviour management in...
Should you represent yourself in court?

Should you represent yourself in court?

Many people ask this question, either because they know they are not eligible for legal aid or perhaps think they are not eligible, even though they have not checked this with a solicitor. A recent study by Dr Charlotte Walker of York St John University revealed the...
Immigration – Illegal Entry

Immigration – Illegal Entry

The Nationality and Borders Act 2022 created a new offence contrary to section 24(D1) Immigration Act 1971. The provision states that: A person who— (a) requires entry clearance under the immigration rules, and (b) knowingly arrives in the United Kingdom without a...
Hey Siri – What’s the answer?

Hey Siri – What’s the answer?

On occasion, Siri or a Google search may well be able to answer a legal query, but the end-user needs to know whether the information online was accurate when first posted and, if so, is correct now. Lawyers spend years learning the skills necessary to carry out...
“Tory Scum!” – Freedom of Speech?

“Tory Scum!” – Freedom of Speech?

In a recent case, the High Court was tasked with considering the implications of free speech in the context of public order offences. The case involved Tory MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who was subjected to abuse whilst in the street accompanied by his wife and a...
IPP Prisoners – A glimmer of hope?

IPP Prisoners – A glimmer of hope?

People released from prison while serving the IPP sentence currently have to wait a minimum of 10 years before they can have their licence reviewed by the Parole Board. This week, the government tabled amendments to the Victims and Prisoners Bill, which is currently...
Imprisonment & Family Life

Imprisonment & Family Life

A prisoner with an earliest release date in August 2027 made an application to the Prison Service in relation to participation in fertility treatment. His partner unfortunately suffers from fertility problems, which include a low number of eggs, polycystic ovaries and...
Rehabilitation of Offenders

Rehabilitation of Offenders

On 28th October 2023 provisions in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 came into effect, enacting changes to the laws in relation to the rehabilitation of offenders. These amendments extend the scope of the Rehabilitation of Offenders At as it applies to...
Cryptoassets and Proceeds of Crime

Cryptoassets and Proceeds of Crime

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 has received Royal Assent and, when in force, will implement a large number of changes aimed at fighting economic crime and other illegal activity. One major reform in the Act is in relation to Cryptoassets and...
Late Abortion Cases – Sentencing

Late Abortion Cases – Sentencing

In July 2023, the Court of Appeal quashed a sentence of 28 months imprisonment and substituted a sentence of 14 months imprisonment, suspended for two years. The case concerned an offence of administering poison with intent to procure miscarriage, with respect to a...
Firearms – Further Reforms

Firearms – Further Reforms

The Firearms Act 2023 has received Royal Assent and when brought in to force, will introduce a number of regulatory and criminal law reforms. Miniature Rifle Ranges There is an exemption in firearms law (section 11(4) of the Firearms Act 1968) which allows a person to...
Cyclists In the Spotlight

Cyclists In the Spotlight

On the 12th September 2023, Andrea Leadsom MP posed this question to Edward Argar MP who is a Minister of State in the Ministry of Justice: ‘What conversations has my right hon. Friend had across government to make sure that the sentencing for those convicted of...
Rule of Law is under “grave threat”

Rule of Law is under “grave threat”

Cross-party legal reform charity, JUSTICE has this week published a landmark report describing how the rule of law in the UK has “regressed significantly on multiple fronts” and threatens the very democratic fabric of our nation. The rule of law is a set...
Rogue Police Officers, New Proposals

Rogue Police Officers, New Proposals

A feature of many miscarriages of justice cases is the malign influence of dishonest police officers who have managed to stay in post despite many years of red flags having been raised in some cases. Recent tragic cases, such as the murder of Sarah Everard, have...
Lucy Letby Handed a Whole Life Order

Lucy Letby Handed a Whole Life Order

On Friday, 18 August 2023, the Jury returned its final verdicts in the trial of nurse Lucy Letby. Letby was convicted of murdering seven babies in her care and attempting to murder six more. The Jury were discharged from reaching verdicts concerning four other babies....
A Double Penalty for Money Laundering?

A Double Penalty for Money Laundering?

It is prevalent for money laundering offences (under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002) to be charged alongside other alleged criminality, particularly drug offences. Whilst dealing with the monetary gains from offending will indeed amount to a separate money laundering...
Police Powers & The Common Law

Police Powers & The Common Law

When considering police powers, particularly concerning search and seizure of property, we think first of powers derived from statute, which leads us to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. On occasion, however, statute does not provide police with effective...
Trial of Sexual Offences

Trial of Sexual Offences

The Law Commission is tasked with keeping the law under review and this week presented a consultation paper discussing significant reforms to the trial of sexual offences, including rape. Why was the review carried out? In its End-to-End Rape Review, the Government...
Legal Aid – Some Good News?

Legal Aid – Some Good News?

Generally speaking, news of legal aid reform is met with some trepidation as it usually means even more people will be excluded from this critical safety net or the fees are to be reduced even further. However, this week, a government announcement has been met with...
Rule of Law is under “grave threat”

Strategy for Female Offenders

The government has set out proposals to reduce women’s offending over the period of the 2022–25. This Delivery Plan sets out how Government will deliver four key priorities to reduce women’s offending over the next three years. These are: • Fewer women entering the...
New Public Order Laws in the UK

New Public Order Laws in the UK

Current legislation to manage protests provides predominantly for powers to counter behaviours at protests which are violent or distressing to the public. These powers include those under the Public Order Act 1986 (the “1986 Act”) which provides the police with powers...
“Slow Walking” as an Offence

“Slow Walking” as an Offence

It has been reported that Police in England and Wales are to be given new powers to tackle “disruptive” slow walking used by protesters to block roads. The new legislation would give officers more leeway to intervene when protesters attempt to block roads...
Eye In The Sky

Eye In The Sky

Most motorists are alert to law enforcement when driving, taking notice of speed limits, speed camera warnings, and generally being alert to the fact that a police car may be waiting just around the corner. But how often do you look up? Sure, if you are being pursued...
Serious Violence Reduction Orders

Serious Violence Reduction Orders

In April 2023, Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs) are due to come into force in certain pilot areas (Section 342A to 342K of the Sentencing Code). The conviction must be for an offence which was committed on or after the first day appointed by regulations for...
Courts Reform – Progress Report

Courts Reform – Progress Report

In 2016, HMCTS launched an ambitious portfolio of reforms later brought together to form the courts and tribunals reform programme. It aims to modernise the justice system by reducing complexity and providing new ways for people to engage. HMCTS intends to achieve...
“Encouraging serious self-harm” to become a criminal offence

Judicial Complaints

Sometimes clients contact because they are unhappy with the way that a judge, or other judicial office-holder, has behaved towards them. These are what are known as complaints about personal conduct of judges. They are distinct from complaints about points of law,...
Offence of encouraging or assisting serious self-harm

Child Cruelty – Sentencing Changes

Updates to sentencing guidelines for offenders convicted of child cruelty offences including causing or allowing death or serious injury in England and Wales, were published this week by the Sentencing Council following consultation. Why have the guidelines been...

Levy & Co News: 20/02/2023

Levy and Co Solicitors are pleased to announce that three members of our team have had recent success: Rose Noble, who joined us from university as a paralegal has, today, been accredited as a duty solicitor. Two other paralegals – Vlad – Taylor, who both...
Landfill Tax fraud & Waste Crime

Landfill Tax fraud & Waste Crime

Landfill Tax applies to all waste disposed at a licensed landfill site (unless the waste is classed as exempt). The permit holders for landfill sites (operators) are liable to Landfill Tax in the first instance. If the operator does not have direct involvement with...
Modern Slavery – A Legal Minefield

Modern Slavery – A Legal Minefield

The issue of modern slavery and legal defences that might be available to those suspected of crime has occupied a great deal of judicial time over the last five years. The latest case to come before the court, AFU [2023] EWCA Crim 23, resulted in the conviction being...
Crime on the water

Crime on the water

New legislation (The Merchant Shipping (Watercraft) Order 2023) is being introduced to crack down on the dangerous misuse of watercraft such as jet skis, with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency being granted more powers to prosecute perpetrators of accidents. The new...
Aggravated Trespass

Aggravated Trespass

Aggravated Trespass is an offence under section 68 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. It can only be tried in the magistrates’ court and carries a maximum penalty of three months’ imprisonment. A person commits the offence of aggravated trespass if he...
Excess….As Night Follows Day

Excess….As Night Follows Day

It’s funny how things change as the years pass by. Perhaps only ten years ago, if we were thinking about particular spikes in alleged criminal offending over the Christmas period, the one that would jump out would always be drunk driving. These days it is common...
Police Cells For Prisoners

Police Cells For Prisoners

The Ministry of Justice has announced emergency measures that will see some people who ought to be in prison instead placed in police cells. The capacity pressure is specific to the adult male estate, and there is ample capacity in the women’s and youth estates....
Health of Counsel as A Ground of Appeal

Health of Counsel as A Ground of Appeal

What impact might the serious ill health of counsel have on the safety of a conviction? The Appellant asked the Court of Appeal to resolve this question, which had been formulated in these terms: “Where after a trial in which the defendant was convicted it...
Delay & Alleged Historic Offending

Delay & Alleged Historic Offending

It is now commonplace for us to be asked to deal with cases where a person is accused of a crime, most commonly of a sexual nature, which is said to have occurred many decades earlier. Not surprisingly, those accused will wonder how they can be expected to properly...
Juror Bias?

Juror Bias?

Any avid fan of American courtroom drama will be familiar with the idea of lawyers using ingenious methods to try and select a favourable jury panel. In England and Wales, the scope for objection is minimal, and in most cases, the jurors chosen to sit will remain on...
New Public Order Laws

New Public Order Laws

A new public order bill is currently before parliament and may trigger a more authoritarian approach to protest rights. Introducing the bill, then Secretary of State for the Home Office Priti Patel spoke of an increase in disruption and criminal behaviour during...
What works in youth justice?

What works in youth justice?

For decades academics, policy makers, practitioners and other experts have deliberated on how best to create safer communities by preventing offending by children. For the past 20 years or more, the body of evidence known as the ‘Child First’ approach has been proven...
Bribery – an expensive business…..

Bribery – an expensive business…..

On 3 November 2022, Glencore Energy (UK) Limited was sentenced to financial penalties totalling some £280 million. Glencore was charged on indictment with seven counts under the Bribery Act 2010. Glencore pleaded guilty to all seven counts on 21 June 2022 before the...
Statues, Protest & Human Rights

Statues, Protest & Human Rights

On 5th January 2022 at the Crown Court sitting at Bristol, four defendants were found not guilty of criminal damage even though they had readily admitted to removing a statue (of Edward Colston) from its plinth and tipping it into the harbour. Following the...
“Encouraging serious self-harm” to become a criminal offence

Sentencing & Deterrence

General deterrence raises some of the oldest questions in criminology. A general deterrent effect would occur where a disposal makes other potential offenders less likely to offend. General deterrence is said to depend on three main factors which have been explored in...
Football & Disorder

Football & Disorder

The government has this week released data in respect to football-related crime and disorder. The key findings are: Incidents were reported at more than half of all matches (53%) – 1,609 of the 3,019 matches played Around 70% of fans arrested last season were...
Some People May Be Physically Unable to use Police Breathalysers, New Research Indicates

Police Constables

Given we are criminal defence lawyers we interact with police on a regular basis, but perhaps without thinking too much about the office of police constable and what it entails. Every police officer, irrespective of rank hold the office of police constable. The office...
Highly Dangerous Weapons & Sentencing

Highly Dangerous Weapons & Sentencing

When sentencing for offences of assault, the use of a weapon will always be an aggravating feature. The sentencing guideline also refers explicitly to “highly dangerous weapons” and will be treated as a particularly serious feature of the offending. In a...
Age & Sentencing

Age & Sentencing

In a recent case (Spivey [2022] EWCA Crim 997) a Judge was faced with offenders who had just turned 18 years of age. When sentencing, he made the following observation: “I do have in mind the guidelines in relation to sentencing children and young people.”...
Clarity on Suspended Sentences

Clarity on Suspended Sentences

Several offences, such as those involving offensive weapons and blades, have minimum sentencing provisions, resulting in imprisonment for at least six months for many offenders. A question arose as to whether such prison sentences could lawfully be suspended. In the...
Ryan Giggs and the “Hung Jury”

Ryan Giggs and the “Hung Jury”

The trial of former footballer Ryan Giggs ended this week without a verdict. The aim of any trial is for a verdict to be reached on all counts, whether guilty or not guilty. Ideally, a jury will be unanimous in its view. In the Giggs trial, it became apparent that a...
Sentencing Young Offenders

Sentencing Young Offenders

In Meanley [2022] EWCA Crim 1065 the Court of Appeal emphasised the importance of pre-sentence reports when sentencing young offenders. Meanley was 16 ½ at the date of commission of the offences, and 17 at the date of his conviction and sentence. On 29 October 2021,...
Queen Elizabeth, Rest in Peace

Queen Elizabeth, Rest in Peace

We were saddened to learn of Queen Elizabeth’s passing yesterday. For many years, she and her family served this country with honour and dignity. She worked hard for the British people and ruled with a beautiful sense of humour. Elizabeth sadly passed away at...
Rogue Police Officers, New Proposals

Confiscation and Proportionality

Confiscation remains one of the most challenging areas of criminal law, confusing not only clients but also many lawyers with insufficient expertise in this area. In a recent case, the Supreme Court considered the situation where a person lies to secure a job but goes...
Police powers: Strip searching

Police powers: Strip searching

As part of a standard stop and search, police officers can require those being searched to remove an outer coat, jacket, or gloves. Officers also have legal powers to require individuals to remove more clothing. This is commonly referred to as “strip searching”. Strip...
New Public Order Powers In Force

Criminal Appeals in the Spotlight

The Law Commission of England and Wales has announced that it will launch a wide-ranging review of the laws governing appeals for criminal cases. The Commission has been asked by the Government to examine the need for reforms to the appeals system, to ensure that the...
Pre-charge Bail – Changes Coming Soon

CPS launches Defendants strategy

A commitment to fairness for all parties is at the heart of a new Defendants Strategy, launched recently by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The three-year strategy addresses areas where suspects and defendants may face challenges when involved in the criminal...
Call for more diverse juries

Call for more diverse juries

The family of a 14-year-old boy who was chased through the streets, racially abused and stabbed to death are calling for new laws to improve diversity on juries, after his killer was cleared of murder. Dea-John Reid was killed in broad daylight in Birmingham in May...
Drug Supply – the role of algorithms

Drug Supply – the role of algorithms

A recent Court of Appeal case shed some light on the use of algorithms to measure the likely quantities of drugs supplied by a particular defendant. The algorithm has been designed by a police officer of the Metropolitan Police Service, in collaboration with an...
New Criminal Justice Initiatives

New Criminal Justice Initiatives

It has been a busy week for new policy announcements, with these coming from the Ministry of Justice in the last few days. Prison leavers tagged to cut alcohol-fuelled crime Prison leavers will be ordered to wear a sobriety tag, which monitors alcohol levels in sweat,...
Corporate Criminal Liability

Corporate Criminal Liability

The problem The general rule for attributing liability to companies in English and Welsh criminal law is the ‘identification principle’. This states that where a particular mental state is required, only the acts of a senior person representing the company’s...
QC Misconduct & Its broader Impact

QC Misconduct & Its broader Impact

This week the disciplinary body for barristers suspended a barrister, Tim Raggatt QC, for 12 months. This means that he will be prevented from practising law during that period unless he succeeds in appealing the decision. The conduct arose in a criminal case where Mr...
Violent Crime

Violent Crime

The Home Office has reported that their ‘whole-system’ approach to violent crime is working while also announcing further funding to tackle serious violence. The press release states that Violence Reduction Units and ‘hotspot policing’...
Domestic homicide

Domestic homicide

The Home Office has published a report that summarises information from domestic homicide reviews (DHR) from October 2019 to 2020. The reviews are multi-agency reviews that are commissioned by community safety partnerships. They look into the deaths of adults that may...
New Approach to the Youngest Offenders

Parole Reform

The Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab, has announced a reform package for the parole system. A “Root and Branch” review focussed on the following areas: • An evaluation of the parole reforms to date – looking at overall performance, the response to the...
Facial Recognition

Facial Recognition

The College of Policing has published a guide to the use of live facial recognition technology. The guide is intended to ensure a consistent approach across forces with a clear legal and ethical framework. The College sets out five aims for the guidance: • live facial...
Preventing a move to Open Prison

Preventing a move to Open Prison

For the first time, the Justice Secretary has intervened and overruled a decision of the Parole Board to move a prisoner to an open prison. In 1998 Stephen Ling was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Joanne Tulip on Christmas Day 1997. Ling had met Ms...
Smacking Children

Smacking Children

The common law has long had a concept of “reasonable chastisement” when it comes to disciplining children. A parent or person in loco parentis may administer reasonable corporal punishment, although concepts of “reasonableness” have narrowed....
Prison Leavers Project

Prison Leavers Project

The government has announced further projects as part of the Prison Leavers Project, which is a cross-government initiative helping offenders released from prison. Statistics demonstrate that offenders who are released from prison without an address are approximately...
Crackdown on Waste Crime

Crackdown on Waste Crime

The Environment Agency Chief Executive, Sir James Bevan, has made a speech on waste crime at an event with Let’s Recycle and the Environmental Services Association. The Executive said that he called waste crime the “new narcotics” six years ago. In...
Criminal Charges and Protests

Criminal Charges and Protests

The Attorney General has referred questions of law to the Court Appeal, acting in her role as the Guardian of the Public Interest. The questions concern the proper scope of defences to criminal charges that arise from protests and what directions should be given to...
Drug driving crackdown

Drug driving crackdown

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has announced a consultation on the issue of whether those convicted of drug driving should have to undergo rehabilitation. Those convicted of drink driving, as opposed to drug driving, are usually offered the drink driver...
The Forfeiture Rule

The Forfeiture Rule

An unusual case recently came before the Upper Tribunal, considering an issue under the Forfeiture Act 1982. The forfeiture rule says that a person cannot benefit from their own wrongdoing, especially if that wrongdoing results in the death of another person. The rule...
Counterfeit and pirated goods 

Counterfeit and pirated goods 

Europol has issued a report on the way criminal networks have adapted to new opportunities and demand for products generated by the pandemic. The Intellectual Property Crime Theft Assessment 2022 was produced by Europol and the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)....
Divorce Law is Changing

Divorce Law is Changing

As you may have read in the news, no-fault divorce is set to come into law following the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill receiving Royal Assent last year. From 6th April 2022, spouses will be able to end their marriage without having to provide a reason for...
Economic Crime

Economic Crime

A Bill is progressing through Parliament to set up a register of overseas entities and their beneficial owners and require overseas entities who own land to register in certain circumstances. It also makes provisions about unexplained wealth orders and sanctions. The...
Revenge Porn

Revenge Porn

A new criminal law to tackle Revenge Porn was introduced in 2015 in England & Wales as part of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. Section 33 covers the sharing of private sexual materials in either images or films of another person without their consent with...
Bounce back loans

Bounce back loans

When the Minister responsible for Whitehall efficiency and counter-fraud resigned in January, he mentioned lax oversight of the Bounce Bank Loan Scheme BBLS. Much has also been said in the press about frauds surrounding the scheme and losses from similar schemes being...
Tinder Fraud

Tinder Fraud

A number of cases have hit the news recently relating to scams or frauds carried out using Tinder. The Tinder app is available in nearly two hundred countries, with an average of 1.6 billion “swipes” per day. With 50 million users, there is a wide audience...
Fraud, scams and economic crime

Fraud, scams and economic crime

The Treasury Committee has published a report on fraud scams and economic crime. The Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of HM Treasury, HMRC and associated public bodies such as the Bank of England and...
Driving Disqualifications – Lifetime Ban?

Automated vehicles

A joint report from the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission has been published. The topic is automated vehicles and makes recommendations for the safe and responsible introduction of self-driving vehicles. The Law Commission is the...
School Absence

School Absence

The government has announced new proposals to address the way schools deal with avoidable absences. They refer to the current system as a postcode lottery with different approaches to sanctions across the country. Some local authorities did not issue any fines at all...
Fast Track Justice – For Some

Court Backlog

The backlog in the criminal courts has been an issue for some time. Although the number of outstanding cases grew during the pandemic, there was already a backlog. The government has considered various ways of dealing with the issue, including temporary courts. The...
Community payback

Community payback

The government has announced the recruitment of more than 500 staff to work in Community Payback. The aim is to be able to enable offenders to serve an extra 3 million hours of payback each year. The announcement isn’t clear on the reasoning behind the...
Cyber Laws

Cyber Laws

The government has introduced a “new world-leading law” to ensure consumers are better protected from hackers on their phones, smart TVs, fitness trackers, tablets and other devices that connect to the internet. Why? Research has shown that as many as four...
Police funding

Police funding

The government has announced a 7% increase in policing funding, bringing the total to £1.1 billion. This amounts to a total of £16.9 billion for the financial year 2022/23. The increase is supposed to aid in the implementation of the government’s Beating Crime...
New Approach to the Youngest Offenders

Rape prosecutions

The Law Commission has announced a project to examine how evidence is used in rape proceedings in order to dispel rape myths. The Law Commission is the statutory independent organisation established by the Law Commissions Act of 1965 to evaluate the law and provide...
No case to answer

No case to answer

Eleanor Lucas, under the instruction of our very own Mary Buxton recently represented a young man charged with robbery and possessing a bladed article. In this particular case, the defendant allegedly approached the two complainants, ages 14 and 15, in a park,...
Pre-charge Bail – Changes Coming Soon

Prison and Rehabilitation

The government has released a new plan titled “The Prisons Strategy White Paper,” with the goal of providing a prison construction programme that will allow for the reform and rehabilitation of offenders. Modern jails, it appears, will reduce reoffending...
Parole hearings to be heard in public for the first time

Victims’ Law

A public consultation on a new ‘Victims’ Law has begun, according to the Justice Secretary, which would ensure increased victim input during the criminal justice process. The Crown Prosecution Service, the police, and the courts would all have to account...
The Policing and Crime Act 2017

The Policing and Crime Act 2017

The Policing and Crime Act 2017 gained Royal Assent on January 31. By setting time restrictions for police bail, the Act makes major modifications to present pre-charge bail regulations. The act enacts a number of changes to existing rules involving PCCs, complaints...
Terrorism offences sentencing guidelines

Terrorism offences sentencing guidelines

The Sentencing Council is responsible for producing guidelines on sentencing for the judiciary and criminal justice professionals. The Council keeps the guidelines under review and publishes new ones where appropriate. A new consultation has been published looking at...
Sentencing repeat offenders

Sentencing repeat offenders

Fasail Hussain was sentenced earlier this year for drugs offences. The sentencing judge imposed a total term of 2293 days imprisonment. Hussain had been released from prison on licence at the time that he committed the offences. When an offence is committed on...
Natasha’s Law

Natasha’s Law

In 2016 Natasha Ednan-Laperouse bought a baguette from Pret a Manger; unbeknownst to Natasha, the bread contained sesame seeds. That ingredient was not listed on the packaging, and Natasha suffered a fatal allergic reaction. At the time, fresh food that was made and...
Civil Nuclear Constabulary 

Civil Nuclear Constabulary 

The Civil Nuclear Constabulary is a specialist armed police force that protects civil nuclear sites and nuclear materials in England, Scotland and Wales. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recently sought views on potential legislation...
Prison Leavers Project

Prison and rehabilitation

There has always been a great deal of debate surrounding the issues of punishment and rehabilitation and the role of prison sentences in the justice system. Although some people can favour punishment and others rehabilitation, most people would suggest a mix of both....
Secondary liability

Secondary liability

Did you know that you do not have to enter a house to be guilty of burgling it? How? Burglary is defined as entering as a trespasser with either the intent to steal or actually stealing. It can also be committed by entering with the intent to cause grievous bodily...
Racial discrimination – UN report

Racial discrimination – UN report

George Floyd dying in the USA in 2020 resulted in mass protests worldwide and marked a watershed in the fight against racism. In the aftermath of his death, the United Nations has produced a report analysing racial justice. The report found that the police use of...
Independent Review of Drugs

Independent Review of Drugs

The government has announced the set-up of a new drugs unit to help end illegal drug-related illnesses and deaths. To be known as the Joint Combating Drugs Unit, it will bring together multiple government departments to tackle drug misuse across society. Drug misuse...
Some People May Be Physically Unable to use Police Breathalysers, New Research Indicates

The Thin Blue Line

The thin blue line refers to the concept of the police being the line that prevents society from descending into chaos, the blue referring to the colour of the uniform. The origin of the term came from 1854 when a red uniformed regiment in the Battle of Balaclava...
Live Facial Recognition 

Live Facial Recognition 

Facial recognition technology is the process by which a person can be identified from a digital facial image. A camera captures an image and produces a biometric template. A system is then used to compare the degree of similarity between two facial templates. Such...
New Approach to the Youngest Offenders

Sentencing and ethnicity

The Sentencing Academy has produced a report reviewing ethnicity and custodial sentencing trends from 2009 to 2019. Over the years, several official reports have addressed the role of race and ethnicity in sentencing decisions. The current report looked at sentencing...
Illegal entry via small boats

Illegal entry via small boats

The Crown Prosecution Service and law enforcement agencies have agreed a consistent approach to the handling of illegal entry cases via small boats and lorries. Their guidance has been updated in the sections regarding small boats and larger vessels, passengers and...
Concerns over the Quality of Representation for Youth Justice

When consent isn’t consent

An unusual case was dealt with at the Court of Appeal recently concerning offences of rape. The victim, referred to as X, was the partner of Smith, who was the leader of a large-scale drugs conspiracy. Smith enjoyed watching X have sex with his friends; he was much...
Some People May Be Physically Unable to use Police Breathalysers, New Research Indicates

A policeman, a taser and manslaughter

Benjamin Monk, a police officer, has been sentenced for the manslaughter of Dalian Atkinson, who died in 2016. Dalian Atkinson was an ex-footballer who had played for several clubs, including Manchester City and Aston Villa, before retiring from the game in 2001. In...
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill was introduced in the House of Lords in early July and awaits a second reading. The Bill is formed of thirteen parts, including provisions to: introduce measures for the protection of the police; introduce legislation for...
Mentally disordered offenders

Mentally disordered offenders

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has published a report on mentally disordered offenders in the criminal justice system. They provided a position statement on customising community sentencing for offenders with mental disorder/s. The report states that there are...
DVLA and roadside checks

DVLA and roadside checks

Technology has been developed by the DVLA and the Home Office for police officers to use at the roadside to confirm the identity of a driver. The technology allows instant access to a photograph of the driver. The picture is held on the DVLA driver’s database,...
Ryan Giggs and the “Hung Jury”

Natural England prosecutions

Natural England (and Natural Resources Wales) is the government’s advisor for the natural environment in England and Wales. Established in 2006, its purpose is to help conserve, enhance and manage the natural environment. It enforces the laws that protect...
Threats to share intimate images

Threats to share intimate images

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 introduced a new offence which came into effect on 29th June 2021. Section 69 of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 creates a new offence of threatening to disclose a private sexual photograph or film in which another individual appears, and by...
The Forfeiture Rule

Renationalised Probation Service

In 2015 reforms were passed to allow some of the National Probation Service responsibilities to be dealt with by private companies. Known as Community Rehabilitation Companies, or CRCs, the companies were responsible for low to medium risk offenders while probation...
Knife Crime Prevention Orders

Knife Crime Prevention Orders

On the 5th July 2021, certain provisions of the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 come into force in specific areas for a period of 14 months. The area in question is the “metropolitan police district”, which consists of Greater London, excluding the City of...
Who is Daniel Morgan?

Who is Daniel Morgan?

You may have heard the name Daniel Morgan being mentioned in the media recently. Daniel was a private investigator who would carry out extensive work for the News of the World. He was found murdered in 1987 in a car park with an axe embedded in his head, with no...
Preventing a move to Open Prison

Rape review

The Government’s End to End Review of the Criminal Justice System Response began in 2019. The purpose was to look at evidence across the system, from reporting rape to the police through to court outcomes, to understand what was happening in cases of adult rape....
New Approach to the Youngest Offenders

Corporate criminal liability

The Law Commission is seeking views on corporate criminal liability. The Commission is an independent statutory body that keeps the law in England and Wales under review. The Commission recommends reform where it is needed to ensure the law is fair, modern, simple and...
Covid 19 – Fixed Penalty Notices

Covid 19 – Fixed Penalty Notices

More than 85,000 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) have been issued for breaches of the Covid restrictions in England since March 2020. What is a fixed penalty notice? An FPN allows a penalty to be paid instead of being prosecuted and risking a criminal conviction. Fast...
Threats to share intimate images

Coercive and controlling behaviour

The offence of controlling and coercive behaviour has been on the statute books for a few years now but has recently hit the headlines. Ruth Dodsworth is an ITV Wales presenter who met her ex-husband, Jonathan Wignall, in 2001. She became the primary income earner...
Reducing the backlog in criminal courts

Child Sexual Offences

Draft revised sentencing guidelines have been produced to reflect recent Court of Appeal judgments. The guidelines clarify sentencing guidance for cases where no sexual activity occurs or where the targeted child does not exist. The revised guidelines are subject to...
Deletion of police records

Deletion of police records

In 2006 the Association of Chief Police Officers, known as ACPO, founded a Criminal Records Office, now known as ACRO. The intention was for ACRO to organise the management of criminal record information and improve links between the records and biometric information....
Court of Appeal Issues Further Guidance on Sentencing of Young People

Women on short term sentences

An evidence-based practice team from HM Prison and Probation Services have produced a report entitled “An evaluation of a brief intervention to reduce re-offending among women serving short sentences.” Over 12 months, a study was made of 255 women who were...
Facebook and Fraud

Facebook and Fraud

The Competition and Markets Authority intervened with Facebook to combat fake and misleading reviews on the site. At the beginning of last year, Facebook agreed to “better identify, investigate and respond to fake and misleading reviews”. As a result of...
Prison Categorisation

Prison Categorisation

Every prisoner is given a security category. For female prisoners, there are only two options, closed or open condition. For male prisoners, there are four categories, A to D. What do the categories mean? Female prisoners: Closed conditions are for female prisoners...
Prison Visits

Prison Visits

During the Covid pandemic, there have been significant limits and halts to prison visits. Once we are out of lockdown, there should be a gradual return to standard visits, so what happens and what are the rules? The Prison Rules, in particular Rule 35, set out the...
Offence of encouraging or assisting serious self-harm

Sexual Abuse in Schools

Ofsted has announced a review into sexual abuse in schools. The review will consider the processes that schools, and colleges have in place regarding whether they are good enough to allow pupils to report abuse freely. Why conduct a review? A website,...
Preventing a move to Open Prison

Non-disclosure and Prejudice

The Criminal Cases Review Commission referred several cases to the Court of Appeal, which involved allegations of public order related to trade union activity. They included the case of the actor Ricky Tomlinson who had been convicted in 1973 of conspiracy to...
Bite Mark Evidence

Bite Mark Evidence

What is bite mark evidence? A bite mark is a pattern produced by the indentations of the teeth into any substance capable of being marked. It is argued that a bite mark can be thought of as a tool mark and that they are unique to the individual, like a fingerprint....
Line of Duty – The Acronym

Line of Duty – The Acronym

This week saw the new series of the BBC’s Line of Duty hit our screens, with another battle ahead for the police against serious organised crime. For those new to this drama, the first episode may well have been very confusing. The episode was clouded in layers...
New Approach to the Youngest Offenders

Good character as mitigation

What is good character? As far as the criminal courts are concerned, a person of good character is usually someone without convictions or cautions recorded against them. It is of particular relevance in a trial situation as the court will consider good character in...
Mentally disordered offenders

GPS tags

The government has announced what it has called a “world-first scheme” to track certain offenders as they are released from prison. The proposal will make those convicted of burglary, theft or robbery wear a GPS tag on release from prison. The scheme...
Police funding

Police Stop & Search – Time to Rethink?

Police forces must explain the disproportionate use of police powers such as stop and search and use of force on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people or risk losing the trust of the communities they serve, a report published today has found. The Police Service...
Domestic homicide

Parole Board Hearings – Public Scrutiny

Currently, all parole hearings are held in private – this is set out in legislation in the Parole Board Rules. Following a consultation exercise, the government has now committed to opening up the hearings and allowing public access. Legislative change is expected in...
Encrochat

Encrochat

A vast number of cases are awaiting a criminal trial that will rely, to a greater or lesser extent, on the admissibility of communications made via the supposedly highly encrypted Encrochat service. The Court of Appeal has now issued a ruling following preliminary...
Reducing the backlog in criminal courts

BBC in the Dock

The British Broadcasting Corporation (‘BBC’) found itself in the embarrassing position of being fined £28,000 this week after admitting being in contempt of Court. Why was the BBC in trouble? On the morning of 17 November 2020, the BBC made a video and...
Offence of encouraging or assisting serious self-harm

Interpretation of Ano-Genital Findings

Ano-genital findings, namely signs of injury or other non-natural interference, often form part of child abuse prosecutions. In recent years new research has cast doubt on some old beliefs, and it may be the case that some convictions are unsafe. The most recent...
Europol Reports on EU Drugs Market & Suggests a More Robust Response Needed

Sentencing for Drugs Offences

New sentencing guidelines for some drugs offences will come in to force on 1 April 2021 and will apply to all cases sentenced on or after that date. The update is to reflect modern drug offending and new guidelines for offences created by the Psychoactive Substances...
Judge as Referee

Judge as Referee

It is often said that the function of a Judge during a jury trial, is to act as referee as between prosecution and defence. Whilst a Judge is not entirely side-lined the expectation is that no bias will be displayed against any one party. When a Judge steps over the...
Covid 19 – Fixed Penalty Notices

Custody Time Limits & Young Defendants

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the government introduced changes to the custody time limit regulations that extended the custody time limits in the Crown Court by two months to address ongoing delays in the criminal justice system worsened during the...
Air Weapons – The Law & Proposed Reforms

Air Weapons – The Law & Proposed Reforms

The licensing of air weapons is different across the UK: In England and Wales there is no need to acquire a licence to hold an air weapon. In Scotland air weapons owners need a specific air weapons licence. In Northern Ireland air weapons owners need a firearms...
“Encouraging serious self-harm” to become a criminal offence

Sexual Assault and Intent

In a recent case, a defendant was acquitted of sexual assault, the Attorney General referred the case to Court to look at a point of law. The question asked was: “Is it necessary for the prosecution to prove, as an element of the offence of sexual assault, not...
Prison Leavers Project

Release under Investigation

The Policing and Crime Act 2017 introduced the power for police to release suspects while under investigation rather than placing them on police bail. Before the Act, a suspect would be released on police bail, with or without conditions, with a date and time to...
Autism And Crime

Autism And Crime

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a broad range of conditions which are characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and non-verbal communications. Autism is generally a hidden disability, and it may not be immediately apparent...
Grave Concerns Raised Over Prisoner Care

Intentionally Assisting Offences

There is a criminal offence of intentionally assisting offences believing one or more will be committed. Jordan Atkinson was charged with this offence and sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. The offence he assisted was wounding with intent to cause grievous...
Modern Slavery

Modern Slavery

Modern Slavery There is a defence under section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 for a person who is compelled to do an act, where that compulsion is as a result of slavery or exploitation, and a reasonable person in the same position with the same characteristics...
Courts Reform – Progress Report

Manslaughter and the ‘PC Harper Case’

Manslaughter and the ‘PC Harper Case’ The death of PC Harper has been in the news again recently. He died after he was dragged behind a car that was fleeing from the scene of a theft. Unusually, at the same time that the Attorney General applied for leave to refer all...
Offence of encouraging or assisting serious self-harm

Rape Myths

Rape Myths The Crown Prosecution Service recently produced new guidance for prosecutors considering rape charges. The new guidance was said to help tackle rape myths and stereotypes, several of which were referenced. How much of an issue are rape myths? According to...
Unlawful Importation of Firearms Offences

Firearms – New sentencing guidelines

Firearms – New sentencing guidelines Eight new guidelines have been published for Firearms offences following an earlier consultation. The guidelines will come into force on 1 January 2021. What are sentencing guidelines? These are guidelines that must be...
Custody time limits & Covid19

Custody time limits & Covid19

Custody time limits & Covid19 Whenever a person is remanded in custody in criminal proceedings, a time limit is set within which the trial must be concluded. The Covid lockdown meant that trials were temporarily suspended leading to issues with custody time...
E-scooters

E-scooters

[Image credit: fullstoppr/13256567] E-scooters Did you know that e-scooters fall within the definition of a motor vehicle? You would not be alone if you said no. Due to the growing popularity of e-scooters and general ignorance in respect of the laws governing them,...
Clarity on Suspended Sentences

Firearms

Firearms A firearms consultation has been launched this week to seek views on enhanced security for powerful rifles, introducing licensing controls on miniature rifle ranges, and tougher controls on ammunition. Why is a consultation taking place? There have already...
Reducing the backlog in criminal courts

Reviewing a sentence

Reviewing a sentence If the Attorney General believes that a sentence is “unduly lenient”, or too soft as the newspapers may say, she can ask for the case to be referred back to court to be reconsidered. This is what happened to Taha Amin. He pleaded...
It wasn’t me!

It wasn’t me!

It wasn’t me! It is often the case that a defendant does not dispute that a crime has been committed but denies any participation. In such cases, it will be not only essential to challenge any evidence that points to the defendant as being guilty but also look...
The Forfeiture Rule

Having the Last Word – Closing Speeches

Having the Last Word – Closing Speeches The closing speech is a significant opportunity for the defence to make a plea to the jury as to why a not guilty verdict ought to be returned. The speech, which will follow any prosecution closing, allows the defence to...
Offence of encouraging or assisting serious self-harm

Human trafficking as a defence 

Human trafficking as a defence In a recent case an appellant, referred to only as “V” pleaded guilty to producing cannabis and was sentenced to 26 months’ detention. He appealed against his conviction. The first issue you may think of is that he pleaded guilty,...
Chief Inspector calls for an independent review of the Probation Service

Planning Law – An Expensive Business

Planning Law – An Expensive Business It can be quite tempting to ignore planning laws in the hope that changes you make to buildings and environment will not be noticed. In our experience, it is quite surprising just how often these breaches come to the attention of...
Rape Prosecutions

Rape Prosecutions

Rape Prosecutions Newspapers regularly report that the number of rape prosecutions are low or falling. The Crown Prosecution Service has now published new draft legal guidance for prosecutors on “rape myths and stereotypes” as part of the revision of...
Covert Human Intelligence Sources

Covert Human Intelligence Sources

Covert Human Intelligence Sources The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons. The MP who is Minister for Security, James Brokenshire, set out the purposes of the Bill during the Second Reading...
Counterfeit and pirated goods 

Search Warrants

Search Warrants The Law Commission has recommended reforms that it says will reduce the number of unlawful search warrants being issued, and to assist in the collection of evidence and investigation of crime. Currently, a police officer or other investigator applies...
Covid, Self-Isolation and Employer Duties

Covid, Self-Isolation and Employer Duties

Covid, Self-Isolation and Employer Duties The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 came into effect on 28 September 2020. The regulations: prohibits an employer from allowing a worker to attend any place (except the...
Preventing a move to Open Prison

Memory Fallibility

Memory Fallibility In the criminal courts, we are seeing an ever-increasing number of cases where the court hears evidence from witnesses recounting what apparently happened some years earlier. Of course, in many cases, some of that evidence would have been recorded...
Hate crime – a change of emphasis

Hate crime – a change of emphasis

Hate crime – a change of emphasis The Law Commission is considering proposals to reform hate crime laws. Hate crime is where a victim is targeted, perhaps for an assault, criminal damage or harassment, based on a protected characteristic. What are protected...
A Smarter Approach to Sentencing?

A Smarter Approach to Sentencing?

A Smarter Approach to Sentencing? This is the name of the paper presented to Parliament that proposes changes to the sentencing and release frameworks in the criminal justice system. The paper sets out the “problems” they have identified in the system as...
Recovery plan for the criminal courts

Recovery plan for the criminal courts

Recovery plan for the criminal courts In March, nearly 50% of courts were closed, and jury trials were halted to reduce interaction between court users dramatically. Although 90% of courts have re-opened there is a backlog of cases. The government has announced a...
Indictments – The Basics

Indictments – The Basics

Indictments – The Basics An analysis of criminal appeals reveals that indictment errors, often undetected at the trial stage, can lead to significant injustice. However, the Court of Appeal will not quash a conviction merely because there was some unfairness in...
Secrets and Spies

Secrets and Spies

Secrets and Spies The Official Secrets Act protects the United Kingdom from spying and leaks. The legislation dates back to 1911, 1920, 1939 and was last updated in 1989. Since then, there have been many advances in data technology and communications affecting the...
Reducing the backlog in criminal courts

‘Lurking Doubt’ as a Ground of Appeal

‘Lurking Doubt’ as a Ground of Appeal The idea of lurking doubt as a ground of appeal was first identified in the case of Cooper [1969] 1 QB 267 when the Court held: ‘…we are indeed charged to allow an appeal against conviction if we think that...
Knives – Cash for Surrender

Knives – Cash for Surrender

Knives – Cash for Surrender The Offensive Weapons Act 2019 makes provision for the surrender of certain weapons. Sections 44, 46, 54 and 55 of the Act amend various pieces of legislation with the effect that it becomes an offence to possess certain dangerous...
Covid 19 – Fixed Penalty Notices

Pandemics, Covid and Fraud

Pandemics, Covid and Fraud Legal experts are warning that an onslaught of new cases is inevitable for the Serious Fraud Office amid the coronavirus-prompted recession. “I envisage that much more serious fraud will be uncovered in the next six to 12 months. The...
Pre-charge Bail – Changes Coming Soon

Fighting for a Suspended Prison Sentence

Fighting for a Suspended Prison Sentence In many cases, despite the fact an offence is serious enough for a custodial sentence to be imposed, this can be avoided if the court can be persuaded to suspend the prison sentence. Which length of sentence can be suspended?...
Rape Prosecutions

Jurors – When They Misbehave

Jurors – When They Misbehave Jurors take an oath to try a case solely on the evidence heard in court, to do otherwise risks a significant miscarriage of justice. At the outset of every criminal trial, and often at frequent points during it, a Judge will remind...
Reducing the backlog in criminal courts

Court Clarifies Release Provisions

Court Clarifies Release Provisions The High Court this week confirmed that the new release provisions, applying to some offenders, operate retrospectively. The court was hearing a challenge to the Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Act 2020, which...
Offence of encouraging or assisting serious self-harm

Sexual Offences and the Issue of Consent

Sexual Offences and the Issue of Consent A vast number of sexual offence cases revolve around the issue of consent. In everyday terms, the ‘consent issue’ should be straightforward, either someone did, or did not, consent to sexual intimacy. In real life,...
No Free Ride for Private Prosecutors

No Free Ride for Private Prosecutors

No Free Ride for Private Prosecutors A peculiar aspect of the criminal costs regime is that a private prosecutor can apply for their costs to be paid by the State, regardless of whether they win or lose the case. This situation allows persons to pursue prosecutions...
Sentencing – Beware the Cliff Edge

Sentencing – Beware the Cliff Edge

Sentencing – Beware the Cliff Edge Ellis Thomas pleaded guilty to a relatively minor public order offence and was sentenced to a community penalty. This penalty becomes the subject of Court of Appeal proceedings due to the following set of facts: “It was...
Jury Trials and Covid 19

Jury Trials and Covid 19

Jury Trials and Covid 19 In a startling announcement, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland admitted that the right to a jury trial is in his sights and might be curtailed in a few weeks time. Before the Coronavirus pandemic, the Crown Court case backlog was approximately...
A Summer of Protest?

A Summer of Protest?

A Summer of Protest? As we slowly exit the Covid19 ‘lockdown’ we have seen several protests in major cities. As life moves toward a more ‘normal’ footing, whatever that may be, and as we enter the Summer months, protest action may likely...
Reducing the backlog in criminal courts

When Will I Be Sentenced?

When Will I Be Sentenced? In cases where there is more than one defendant, it is a common scenario that one of more pleads guilty, perhaps at an early stage, but others continue their case to trial. A question then arises as to whether those who have pleaded guilty...
Community payback

Reporting restrictions

Reporting restrictions Although there is a general principle of open justice, that those who appear in court can be reported on, there are some exceptions. It is a contempt of court to publish anything to the public which creates a substantial risk that the course of...
Postal Offences

Postal Offences

Postal Offences As the Coronavirus crisis has forced almost everyone to spend more time at home, home deliveries have rocketed as people have been forced to shop online. While this means that many people will be at home to receive deliveries, there have been reports...
Local Authority Prosecutions

Local Authority Prosecutions

Local Authority Prosecutions The local authority has the power to prosecute in respect of a number of types of crime. This could be certain types of benefit fraud, fly-tipping, fraudulent use of a blue badge, health and safety offences, noise nuisance, irregular...
Courts Reform – Progress Report

Terminating Rulings

Terminating Rulings When a judge makes a ruling at a crown court trial relating to one or more of the offences faced, the prosecution may have a right to appeal against that ruling. The right to appeal against a terminating ruling is strictly conditional upon certain...
The Far Right & Terrorism

The Far Right & Terrorism

The Far Right & Terrorism When people hear reference to the far-right many would think of racism rather than terrorism. Alice Cutter and Mark Jones were members of the banned far-right group National Action along with Garry Jack, Daniel Ward and Connor Scothern....
Is Trial by Jury Going to be Abolished?

Is Trial by Jury Going to be Abolished?

Is Trial by Jury Going to be Abolished? For the last few weeks, since the Coronavirus ‘lockdown’, all jury trials in England and Wales have been stopped. This is not at all surprising given the scale of the pandemic and the requirement for social...
Mitigation

Mitigation

Mitigation The dictionary definition of “to mitigate” is to lessen in force or intensity, to make less severe. Mitigation is the act of reducing how harmful, unpleasant or bad something is, something that causes the court to judge a crime to be less...
Emergency Laws Now in Force

Emergency Laws Now in Force

Emergency Laws Now in Force On Wednesday 25th March 2020 the Coronavirus Bill completed all its parliamentary stages, and Royal Assent was signified, bringing in to force an unprecedented piece of emergency legislation. The purpose of the Coronavirus Act is to enable...
How We Are Handling COVID-19

How We Are Handling COVID-19

How We Are Handling COVID-19 With the recent outbreak of COVID-19, we understand the necessity of taking precautions to ensure personal health and safety. We know that legal matters continue to be important and are working round the clock to ensure that you will...
Intermediaries

Intermediaries

Intermediaries The use of intermediaries during criminal trials is becoming increasingly commonplace. An intermediary may be used to assist any witness, including a defendant, give evidence. The functions of an intermediary “Intermediaries are communication...
Criminal Justice and Coronavirus

Criminal Justice and Coronavirus

Criminal Justice and Coronavirus As the UK prepares to move into the ‘delay phase’, changes are expected to criminal justice procedure. So, what might be expected to change? Criminal Investigations In the event of any public disorder, work on low priority...
Forensic Evidence

Forensic Evidence

Forensic Evidence The Forensic Science Regulator regulates forensic scientists in England and Wales. The Regulator ensures that the provision of forensic science evidence across the criminal justice system is subject to appropriate standards. The Regulator has...
Tougher approach to assaults on NHS staff

Tougher approach to assaults on NHS staff

Tougher approach to assaults on NHS staff Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has written to NHS staff voicing his concern in relation to the use of violence against emergency workers. Hancock’s approach mirrors that taken last year by police...
Prosecuting Without A ‘Victim’

Prosecuting Without A ‘Victim’

Prosecuting Without A ‘Victim’ We often get asked how prosecutions can proceed in the absence of cooperation from the victim or chief witness. The starting point is that no prosecution can go ahead unless there is a realistic prospect of conviction, but...
Speeding and GPS – Does the camera lie?

Speeding and GPS – Does the camera lie?

Speeding and GPS – Does the camera lie? Peter Marrable was summonsed to court for speeding. The allegation was that he had driven at 72mph in a temporary 50mph zone. The police produced evidence of the speed from a ‘Trucam’ device that was approved,...
Prison Contraband

Prison Contraband

Prison Contraband The government has announced further funding to strengthen security measures at several prisons. The funding will go towards advanced body scan technology, aimed at preventing drugs, weapons, mobile telephones and other prohibited items from entering...
Driving Disqualifications

Driving Disqualifications

Driving Disqualifications The Sentencing Council is responsible for issuing guidelines on sentencing for the courts to follow. Guidelines must be followed unless it is in the interests of justice not to do so. New guidelines are now being proposed in respect of...
Recording and Broadcasting in Court

Recording and Broadcasting in Court

Recording and Broadcasting in Court It has long been a criminal offence to take photographs or make recordings in court; even sketch artists have to sketch from memory rather than while in court. In 2011 an 85-year-old man was sent to prison for recording court...
Date rape drugs and the law

Date rape drugs and the law

Date rape drugs and the law Reynhard Sinaga was sentenced to life imprisonment for the rape and sexual assault of 48 victims. The student is believed to have laced drinks with GHB to make his victims lose consciousness and have no recollection of what happened. He...
Prisoners Abroad – Help is Available

Prisoners Abroad – Help is Available

Prisoners Abroad – Help is Available The plight of a 19-year-old British lady hit the news last week, culminating in reports of her being sentenced by a Cypriot court for making what was said to be a false rape allegation. There are many features of this...
Notification Requirements – Removal

Notification Requirements – Removal

Notification Requirements – Removal A large number of people are subject to notification requirements under Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, many for an indeterminate period. The notification framework is often referred to as the ‘sex offender...
Interpreters

Interpreters

Interpreters Many people face court proceedings who do not necessarily have a detailed grasp of the English language. A defendant mustn’t be a mere observer of legal proceedings and that they, as fully as anyone not legally qualified can, participate fully. It...
Giving False Information to the Police

Giving False Information to the Police

Giving False Information to the Police It is an offence to give false information to the police. Section 5(2) of the Criminal Law Act 1967 provides: ‘Where a person causes any wasteful employment of the police by knowingly making to any person a false report...
Playing Politics with Crime?

Playing Politics with Crime?

Playing Politics with Crime? We are in the midst of a general election, so it is perhaps not surprising that ‘law and order’ are featuring in the news as the main political parties fight for the popular vote. While as a firm, we do not offer any...
The Pizza Alibi

The Pizza Alibi

The Pizza Alibi On 10th March 2001, HRH Prince Andrew is alleged to have met and been photographed with a lady who has accused the Prince of sexual misconduct. In a BBC interview, Prince Andrew throws ridicule on that suggestion and throws up two interesting...
Lies and Easy Money

Lies and Easy Money

Lies and Easy Money In a case this week involving Jet2 Holidays, Karl and Laura Hughes claimed that they had suffered sickness while on a package holiday. They said they had food poisoning as a result of eating contaminated food or drink or swimming in the hotel’s...
Tracking Violent Offenders

Tracking Violent Offenders

Tracking Violent Offenders A pilot is being carried out into electronic monitoring global positioning system. The aim of the pilot is to gain information to look at how existing and new electronic monitoring technologies could be used more effectively. A specific...
General Election 2019 – Don’t Get Caught Out

General Election 2019 – Don’t Get Caught Out

General Election 2019 – Don’t Get Caught Out The parliamentary session has come to an end, and we will go to the polls on 12th December 2019 to decide the political makeup of the next parliament. The Representation of the People Act 1983 creates a number...
Investigating Death

Investigating Death

Investigating Death Cases involving the death of a person can have a devastating impact on all concerned. From our perspective, we often deal with people facing the gravest charges after an incident causing loss of life. The gravity of the proceedings can have a...
Sentencing Hearings – Government to force attendance in some instances

Unduly Lenient Sentences – Scheme to Be Extended

Unduly Lenient Sentences – Scheme to Be Extended The government has announced changes to the Unduly Lenient Sentence (‘ULS’) Scheme. There are certain offences where the prosecution (via the Attorney General) can ask the Court of Appeal to review a...
Getting Tough on Health and Safety

Getting Tough on Health and Safety

Getting Tough on Health and Safety A number of recent cases indicate an increasingly robust approach to health and safety law breaches. Company Director Robert Harvey was imprisoned for ten months following an accident where a fellow worker was crushed to death by an...
Terrorism Offences – Tougher Sentences on the Way

Terrorism Offences – Tougher Sentences on the Way

Terrorism Offences – Tougher Sentences on the Way The Sentencing Council is consulting on revised sentencing guidelines for several terrorism offences. This is on the face of it a surprising move given that a definitive guideline was only recently implemented....
Ban on knives, firearms and offensive weapons

Stop and Search

Stop and Search The police, with the support of the Home Office, are making more extensive use of stop and search powers. This new approach is partly due to rising public and political concern about knife crime. A hitherto little-used power to extend the use of stop...
Public Order – New Sentencing Guidelines

Public Order – New Sentencing Guidelines

Public Order – New Sentencing Guidelines New sentencing guidelines for public order offences come in to force for adults sentenced on or after 1 January 2020. In August 2008, the Sentencing Guidelines Council published Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines...
Drink or Drug Driving – The Second Sample

Drink or Drug Driving – The Second Sample

Drink or Drug Driving – The Second Sample In some cases, the police need to take either a blood or urine sample from a driver suspected of driving under the influence of drink or drugs. In almost all instances, the police opt for a blood sample. Part of the...
Clarity on Suspended Sentences

Firearms – Sentencing Reform

Firearms – Sentencing Reform The Sentencing Council is consulting on a new guideline for some of the most commonly prosecuted firearms offences. At the moment, guidance is to be found only in case law, and this can lead to a challenging sentencing exercise. The...
Diplomatic Immunity

Diplomatic Immunity

Diplomatic Immunity The somewhat arcane topic of diplomatic Immunity has hit the news headlines following the tragic death of 19-year-old Harry Dunn, as a result of a road traffic collision. It has been confirmed that the wife of an American diplomat has returned to...
Prison Visits

Conservatives Signal Tougher Sentencing Regime

Conservatives Signal Tougher Sentencing Regime At the Conservative Party Conference this week, the government indicated that it was to get tough on offenders who commit some of the most serious offences, with automatic release at the half-way point being removed in...
Are Your Rights An Illusion?

Are Your Rights An Illusion?

Are Your Rights An Illusion? Rights – A Mere Illusion? The EU has published a report, ‘Rights in practice: access to a lawyer and procedural rights in criminal and European arrest warrant proceedings’, that details the extent to which fundamental...
Delayed Justice

Delayed Justice

Delayed Justice Janet Commins was born on 9 June 1960. On 7 January 1976, shortly after 7.00 pm, she left her home in Flint to meet friends at the local swimming baths. She left a note for her parents, as she often did, to say that she would be back at around 8.30 pm....
The Absent Witness

The Absent Witness

The Absent Witness In some instances, it is not convenient for a witness to be present in court to give evidence, generally because they live or work some distance away from the court, or some other good reason. There are legal provisions that cater for this scenario,...
More Sentences at Risk of Prosecution Appeal

More Sentences at Risk of Prosecution Appeal

More Sentences at Risk of Prosecution Appeal The prosecution, via the Attorney General, has the right to ask the Court of Appeal to consider whether sentences for certain offences are unduly lenient. How does the scheme work? Anyone can ask the Attorney General to...
Record Environmental Agency Prosecution

Gait Analysis

Gait Analysis What is gait? Gait, quite simply, is how a person walks, the movement of limbs. How does this relate to criminal law? With the ever-increasing use of CCTV, the identification of offenders from footage is also increasing. Sometimes a face cannot clearly...
Jury Challenge

Jury Challenge

Jury Challenge It is a common feature of American courtroom drama that a defence attorney moves to remove a juror that they do not like the look of. Many clients wonder whether the same type of challenge can take place in an English courtroom. The Jury Pool In some...
The Cut-Throat Defence

The Cut-Throat Defence

The Cut-Throat Defence A cut-throat defence is where one defendant gives evidence that is damaging to a co-defendant’s case, sometimes going as far as directly accusing the other person of the crime, while typically seeking to exonerate themselves. Such evidence...
Drugs, Prisons and Sentencing

Drugs, Prisons and Sentencing

Drugs, Prisons and Sentencing With many offences, the punishment may vary according to the context of the criminality. By way of example, violence in a domestic context will generally be treated more harshly than the same level of harm against a stranger (absent other...
Ryan Giggs and the “Hung Jury”

A Bad Day in Court?

A Bad Day in Court? Several newspapers recently pondered why ‘one woman is jailed after stealing just £3,000 but another who took £22,000 walks free.” The story was sparked by a tale of two defendants who appeared at the same court centre, on the same day,...
A Smarter Approach to Sentencing?

Solicitors, Charlatans and the Internet

Solicitors, Charlatans and the Internet We interchangeably use many terms to describe legal professionals: lawyers, solicitors, legal advisers, attorneys (an Americanism), a ‘brief’. There are countless others in common usage. Regrettably, this flexibility...
Airports, Planes and Alcohol

Airports, Planes and Alcohol

Airports, Planes and Alcohol It has been reported in the press that 500 people have been arrested while drunk on a plane at British airports in the last three years. For many people a holiday begins once cases have been checked in, and what is the harm in that? It is...
Custody time limits & Covid19

The Parole Board

The Parole Board The Parole Board is an independent body that carries out risk assessments on prisoners serving certain sentences to determine whether they can be safely released into the community. When a person is considered to be fit for release it means that their...
Length of Sentence – Not Always a Surprise

Length of Sentence – Not Always a Surprise

Length of Sentence – Not Always a Surprise The Government has published new plans to make the roads safer for everyone. The plans include several changes for people at every stage of life, and also for more specialised drivers like HGV drivers and motorcycle riders....
Road Safety Review – More New Laws?

Road Safety Review – More New Laws?

Road Safety Review – More New Laws? The Government has published new plans to make the roads safer for everyone. The plans include several changes for people at every stage of life, and also for more specialised drivers like HGV drivers and motorcycle riders. Children...
Criminal Compensation Order

Criminal Compensation Order

Criminal Compensation Order The press has recently reported that children who were victims of serious sexual abuse have received paltry sums, £20 for example, as compensation from the courts. So, what exactly is a criminal compensation order? The court has a duty to...
Counterfeit and pirated goods 

Dirty money

Dirty money The Government has published the new Economic Crime Plan for the next three years. In it, they unveil their strategy for dealing with all types of economic crime, such as money laundering, fraud, market abuse, and bribery. What is economic crime, and why...
Prison rehabilitation and employment

Prison rehabilitation and employment

Prison rehabilitation and employment Recently the government announced incentives for prisoners in custody focussing on positive reinforcements. In doing so, the longer-term aim is to assist rehabilitation and prevent re-offending. A further announcement has been made...
Disqualified Directors

Disqualified Directors

Disqualified Directors Recently, three men from Halifax were convicted after one of them was found to have run a company whilst disqualified. The other two were convicted of assisting him. If you’re thinking of trying to evade a director’s ban, be aware that it can...
Prisoner Benefits and Incentives

Prisoner Benefits and Incentives

Prisoner Benefits and Incentives Over the next six months, benefits and incentives for prisoners are undergoing a change. New rules place emphasis on positive reinforcements – praising prisoners for behaving well – rather than punishment. The new Policy sets out the...
Why hasn’t Michael Gove been arrested?

Why hasn’t Michael Gove been arrested?

Why hasn’t Michael Gove been arrested? A question on many people’s lips since the former Justice Secretary admitted to using cocaine several times earlier in his career. So, could he face the legal consequences of this? Cocaine is a Class A drug, the most serious...
Data Protection – A Shifting Focus

Data Protection – A Shifting Focus

Data Protection – A Shifting Focus Over the last few years, we have seen many matters that would previously have been prosecuted before the criminal courts, move into the jurisdiction of other bodies. What we see as a result is a range of specialist regulators best...
Mentally disordered offenders

Prison is supposed to be hard

Prison is supposed to be hard Prison is supposed to be hard. It is, after all, a punishment. But it’s also designed to help people address their behaviour and stop them re-offending. When imprisonment leads to more offending, it isn’t working. The specific problems...
Finn’s Law – What It Means

Finn’s Law – What It Means

Finn’s Law – What It Means Finn’s Law – What It Means With much fanfare, ‘Finn’s Law’ came in to force on 8th June 2019, following the implementation of the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act 2019. The 2019 Act makes a straightforward amendment to section 4 of the...
Driving Bans – Not Just for Traffic Offences

Driving Bans – Not Just for Traffic Offences

Driving Bans – Not Just for Traffic Offences Most people know that a driving ban may follow for serious road traffic offences or a series of lower-level traffic crimes as a result of ‘totting up’. Few of our client’s know that disqualifications can follow in other...
X-Factor, Coming to a Motorway Near You Soon

X-Factor, Coming to a Motorway Near You Soon

X-Factor, Coming to a Motorway Near You Soon The government has passed legislation which permits for the first time a new traffic camera which will assist in catching those motorists using closed lanes on the motorway network. The Secretary of State grants type...
Speeding – How Fast is Too Fast?

Speeding – How Fast is Too Fast?

Speeding – How Fast is Too Fast? The idea of speed limits causes immense confusion, with many people believing that the speed limit is at least the minimum speed you should ordinarily drive at. Most of us have experienced the rage of a motorist behind us if we adhere...
Focus On Forensics

Focus On Forensics

Focus On Forensics Forensic evidence has dominated some of the news agenda this week, with outrage over the interrogation of complainant’s phones in sexual offence and other cases. In reality of course, if a police officer is to investigate a criminal offence fairly,...
What To Do If You Are Too Unwell To Attend Court

What To Do If You Are Too Unwell To Attend Court

What To Do If You Are Too Unwell To Attend Court Many people face very lengthy court proceedings, and it is therefore hardly unusual that on occasion a person may not be well enough to attend court. Despite this fact, courts are sceptical of alleged illness and unless...
Mental Health and Criminal Law

Mental Health and Criminal Law

Mental Health and Criminal Law Mental Health is a complicated business. Conditions are not easy to diagnose, doctors can disagree on which disorder a person is suffering from, or even if they have a mental health condition at all. Those with mental disorders might...
Terrorism offences sentencing guidelines

Government Tightens Terrorism Laws

Government Tightens Terrorism Laws The Manchester Arena bombing, the London Bridge attack, Shamima Begum. These are some examples of terrorism headlines in the past few years. The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 is the Government’s latest answer to...
Appeals from Beyond the Grave

Appeals from Beyond the Grave

Appeals from Beyond the Grave The Court of Appeal has handed down judgment in the case of R v Max Clifford, the disgraced celebrity PR guru who was convicted in 2014 of a number of sexual offences and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. Clifford died in 2017, so why...
‘Hung Jury’ – Not as Bad as it Sounds

‘Hung Jury’ – Not as Bad as it Sounds

‘Hung Jury’ – Not as Bad as it Sounds Last week the Hillsborough trial involving ex-police officer David Duckenfield ended without reaching a conclusion; a number of papers reported that there was a ‘hung jury’ – so, what does that mean? In an ideal world, a jury will...
Bankruptcy – Time to Stop Digging

Bankruptcy – Time to Stop Digging

Bankruptcy – Time to Stop Digging For many people being declared bankrupt represents either personal and/or business failure, bringing with it feelings of embarrassment, shame and anxiety.   From a legal perspective, the story may not be over, as the law requires...
It wasn’t me!

What You can Expect as a Witness

What You can Expect as a Witness If you have provided a statement for the prosecution or for the defence you may be called to court to give evidence at the defendant’s trial. Is there help available for me? The Witness Service provide assistance for any witness who...
Review of the Parole Board

Review of the Parole Board

Review of the Parole Board The Parole Board is an independent body that carries out risk assessments on prisoners serving certain sentences to determine whether they can be safely released into the community. When a person is considered to be fit for release it means...
Sleepwalking – Is It A Defence?

Sleepwalking – Is It A Defence?

Sleepwalking – Is It A Defence? You wake up one morning and the horror of the night before quickly unfolds. Blue lights and uniformed police officers greet you, search your house and find your girlfriend dead in the bathroom. You have no memory of anything happening...
Plead in Haste, Regret at Leisure

Plead in Haste, Regret at Leisure

Plead in Haste, Regret at Leisure It should go without saying that no plea ought to be entered in any criminal case unless and until the case has been appropriately considered. Regrettably, we see an increasing number of people, who have attended court alone, being...
Modern Slavery

Soubry and the Nazi Slur – An Offence?

Soubry and the Nazi Slur – An Offence? Was it an offence to accuse Anna Soubry of being a Nazi whilst she was broadcasting on Sky News? Potentially, is the answer. The Public Order Act 1986 contains the most likely candidates for any prosecution, in sections 4, 4A,...
Parental Dilemmas That Could Land You in Prison

Parental Dilemmas That Could Land You in Prison

Parental Dilemmas That Could Land You in Prison It is a nightmare scenario that potentially any parent could face. A child returns home, late at night in an agitated state. He hurriedly tells you that he has been in a fight, it wasn’t his fault, but someone has been...
A Simple Adjournment?

A Simple Adjournment?

A Simple Adjournment? In criminal practice and procedure, you might think that the humble adjournment is a relatively simple and straightforward matter, but you would be wrong. A little like buses, never available when you want one, yet, when you don’t want a case...
Indictments – The Basics

Will the Court Know About My Previous Convictions?

Will the Court Know About My Previous Convictions? If you are being sentenced for an offence, the court will be aware of, and may take into account, any convictions you have. Whether this has any impact upon the sentence passed will very much depend on the date of...
New proposed sentencing guidelines – burglary

Computer hacking

Computer hacking Hacking has been in the news a great deal in the last couple of years, for example, the 2016 US Presidential Elections, the extradition case of Lauri Love and the hacking of user accounts of various large companies in order to steal personal...
Stop and Search

Stop and Search

Stop and Search The power of the police to stop and search is currently in the media due to the rise in murders and serious crimes of violence involving the use of knives, particularly in London. A particular area of concern is the disproportionate use of search...