Does life mean life? Life sentences explained

Image

“Sentence for murder is mandatory – it must be one of life imprisonment” remarked the judge in his sentencing; however, does life imprisonment really mean life imprisonment? The Sentencing Council themselves admit that ‘this is a complex area and there are many misunderstandings around it.’ This article seeks to set out the current legal position, especially in light of recent cases which have been instrumental in assisting to answer such a question. Continue reading

The irony of injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance

Imagea

An IPNA; an injunction to prevent nuisance and annoyance. Not yet law but something in which the government is set on implementing in the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill. The IPNA is set to replace the pre-existing ASBO (Anti-social behaviour order); however, in doing so the goalposts are being immeasurably widened. Continue reading

Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act: A proportionate response or a war on human rights?

Image

Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 came into force on the 19th February 2001. 12 years later and its use is widespread; 61,145 people were held under the provisions in 2012-13 alone.[1] The provisions of Schedule 7 are extremely controversial and have held a prominent place in the media recently after the whole ‘Miranda’ affair. Mr Miranda is the partner of Glenn Greenwald, a journalist with the Guardian newspaper. He has made a series of controversial disclosures on US and British spying capabilities based on information from the former US intelligence employee Edward Snowden.[2]

Continue reading

The Rule of Law

Image

 

A topic which has been mentioned in previous blog posts has been that of the rule of law. The rule of law is a concept difficult of a single definition. It is however, a key component in any civilised and democratic society. The easiest way, and that in which many would describe the rule of law, is by saying it is the principle in which nobody is above the law. This definition unfortunately does not go anywhere near encompassing what the rule of law is or is made up of. The concept of the rule of Continue reading

R (on the application of T) v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester

A recent topic in the news is that of a recent Court of Appeal ruling relating to the disclosure of previous criminal convictions in employment applications. Specifically, applications for jobs which involve contact with vulnerable categories of people such as children or the elderly. To be able to work with vulnerable people, a prospective employee must undergo what is known as an Enhanced Criminal Record Check (ECRC). People who apply to adopt children, and prospective barristers are also amongst the groups of people who must undergo an ECRC.

The ECRC application process requires all previous criminal convictions to be disclosed, even if spent (even thought the purpose of a conviction becoming spent is that is no longer has to be disclosed).

The case at the heart of the ruling was that of a job applicant known as T. Somebody who during his employment application had to disclose a police warning he received at the age of 11 regarding a stolen bicycle. This was something that T, along with leading human rights campaigners Liberty, argued was a breach of his human rights. Specifically Article 8 of the ECHR as incorporated into domestic law by the Human Rights Act 1998; the right to a private and family life.

Delivering the ruling in the Court of Appeal, the Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson said the disclosure of old convictions and cautions was designed to protect children and vulnerable adults. However, he said “requiring the disclosure of all convictions and cautions relating to recordable offences is disproportionate to that legitimate aim”.

It must be noted that the rules surrounding Criminal record checks were made a lot stricter after the infamous case of Ian Huntley, who was jailed for life in 2003 for the murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. A case where no background checks had been made on Ian Huntley, who had been placed in a job as a local school caretaker.

It is cases such as these that give the government ammunition to be able to keep the current rules in place, despite the Court of Appeal ruling. The Government plan to appeal against the decision, in the meantime the Court of Appeal has stated the ruling will not take effect until the outcome of the appeal.

So for now there will be no change in the law, but an interesting topic of discussion nevertheless. How far should the government go in relation to the recording of minor criminal offences without crossing the ‘human rights’ line? What would be a proportional response to the threat to our vulnerable members of society? These questions may be answered by the Supreme Court, and when they are Urban Lawyers will be discussing the implications those answers will have on anyone concerned.

Dale Timson

17/02/2012