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 being automatic release, improving confidence and addressing the causes of offending. Automatic release – the blanket use of automatic … Continued

Online abuse – tougher approach suggested by The Law Commission

The Law Commission, which advises the government on law reform has published a report advising changes to laws covering online abuse. Online abuse is covered in the ‘communications offences’ found in section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. The Law Commission believes that “these laws suffer … Continued

The cost of the court backlog – detaining defendants for longer

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 series of new measures to address the current delays in criminal courts. Although some lawyers would argue that … Continued

Knives out to help out

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 knives, offensive weapons, firearms and ancillary equipment which it was previously lawful to keep (including certain … Continued

Covid Fraud – is it likely to spread ?

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 SFO will be even more relevant than it has been before, post-pandemic,” says Sam Tate, a … Continued

Transfer of Fibres – Major New Research Published

The presence of fibres on a person or object is a relatively common feature of serious criminal cases, in particular cases of murder or other serious violence. Fibres can be easily transferred, and their presence can indicate a link between people, locations and/or objects. We know that a significant transfer of fibres can take place … Continued

Facial Recognition – Surveillance society and data protection

Several police forces have been using facial recognition technology to detect suspects. Cameras placed in public places can scan thousands of faces as they pass by, matching those images with images on a database. The technology can assist in the apprehension of wanted offenders, and potentially track people as they go about their lawful business. … Continued

Sentencing as you turn 18 – 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 imposed on the appellant in the Crown Court not long after his 18th birthday for an offence committed … Continued

E Scooters – new rules enabling use

At the end of last year we published the findings of the survey findings on e-scooters which showed that the majority of our sample were unaware of the rules that prevented the growing motorised phenomenon from being used both on public roads and pavements. The Department for Transport are relaxing the rules on the use … Continued

Digital Evidence & Disclosure – obstacles are created for the defence

The capacity of digital devices to store vast amounts of information presents issues for law enforcement and prosecutors. Over the last few years we have seen many instances of non-disclosure of key evidence, and at the same time victim advocates have complained that police investigations are overly intrusive and act as a deterrent to people … Continued

Has Covid19 spelt the end of Jury Trials as we knew them ?

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 39,000 cases. Since lockdown, that number has grown considerably as only a trickle of cases … Continued