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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Pensions – Time to Rethink Corporate Responsibility

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The government has published proposals to punish individuals who mishandle pension scheme management. Two new offences are proposed.

The first will target individuals who wilfully or recklessly mishandle pension schemes, endangering workers’ pensions, by such things as chronic mismanagement of a business; or allowing huge unsustainable deficits to build up; or taking huge investment risks; or a combination thereof. There will be a new custodial sentence of up to seven years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine for this offence.

This brings the punishment in line with similar offences in financial services.

The second, which will attract an unlimited fine, will target individuals who fail to comply with a Contribution Notice, which is issued by The Pensions Regulator requiring a specified amount of money to be paid into the pension scheme by that individual. The government will also introduce a new civil penalty of up to £1 million for this offence.

New legislation will be required in order to bring these provisions into force and therefore they will not likely bite until later this year at the earliest.

However, now is the time for directors, pension fund trustees and other company officers charged with administering pension schemes to ensure that management and reporting regimes are in place and functioning correctly.

We very often see company officers claiming that they were simply unaware of what was going on or didn’t understand due to complexity.

These reasons will not protect a person facing prosecution and with imprisonment being a real prospect ignorance is no longer necessarily bliss.

 

How we can assist

We regularly handle complex fraud, business and regulatory investigations and proceedings. To discuss any aspect of your case, please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected].

Drug Detection and Prisons

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The government has announced that drug detection scanners are being introduced at ten of the “most challenging” prisons. The technology will be used to detect drugs on clothes, paper and mail. It will be able to detect otherwise invisible traces of substances that have been soaked into clothes or letters in an attempt to bypass normal security.

The prisons in question are part of the “10 prisons project” and have struggled with acute problems including high drug use, violence and building issues.

The prisons in question are Hull, Humber, Leeds, Lindholme, Moorland, Wealstun, Nottingham, Ranby, Isis and Wormwood Scrubs.

The introduction of these scanners is the latest stage of the project, and various measures have already been implemented. This includes sniffer dogs, extra searching staff and specialist staff. X-ray scanners are also planned, and one has already been installed at HMP Leeds.

 

What will happen if drugs are found?

The staff have been trained in the handling and preservation of evidence, a positive result will lead to further investigation and could lead to sanctions for a prisoner or visitor and also possible criminal prosecution. Any intelligence obtained may be used to assist decisions on which prisoners or cells require further investigation. Sanctions could include closed visits.

 

What criminal offences could result?

It is a serious offence to bring, throw or otherwise convey (by post for example) any “List A” article into or out of prison. All controlled drugs are List A articles, and while it is an offence to take other items into prison, this article is concerned with drugs.

Drugs are a huge issue in prisons that are said to create a cycle of violence. In particular psychoactive substances can cause aggression, self-harm and trap prisoners in drug-debt.

The scanners and other measures aim to improve detection rates and enhance security procedures. Reducing the quantity of drugs in prisons should reduce the eve of violence and ultimately lead to more rehabilitation so, therefore, less re-offending.

 

What sentence can be imposed?

This offence is one that is so serious it can only be dealt with at the Crown Court, and custodial sentences are usually imposed, even for offenders of previous good character.

Examples of sentences imposed are; sixteen months for a small amount of cannabis, 28 months for small amounts of diamorphine, cocaine and cannabis, 4 months for Subutex.

It is also an offence for a prisoner to encourage someone to bring in drugs for him, in the case of R v Cousins 14 months imprisonment was imposed for incitement to supply in these circumstances.

 

How can we help?

We have vast experience of dealing with drug-related offences from the police station to representation at the Crown Court. To discuss any aspect of your case, please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected].

Review of the Parole Board

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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 risk has been reduced to a level where it is low enough to be effectively managed in the community, not that they pose no risk at all.

Last year the Parole Board decided that the so-called ‘black cab rapist’, John Worboys, was fit for release. Various challenges were made to the decision and it was subsequently overturned by the High Court, and he remains in prison. As a result of that case the Parole Board system was reviewed, following the review there was a public consultation on further reforms. The government have now reported on the outcome of the further review and announced various changes to be introduced.

 

Reconsideration mechanism

The main change is to create a new reconsideration mechanism. A model has been developed for how this should operate, and it will apply where it appears the decision is legally flawed or meets judicial review type criteria. A victim liaison officer will advise victims on how the process operates and the timescales involved. The representations will be made to the Public Protection Casework Section so there will be no need for court proceedings, thereby reducing the cost considerably. The PPCS will then refer appropriate applications to the Parole Board for reconsideration.

Prisoners will also be able to apply for reconsideration if they believe a decision not to release them was flawed. These applications will be made directly to the Parole Board.

 

Victims

A Victim Contact Scheme is to be rolled out to a wider range of victims with an aim to improve victim engagement and communication. Victims will be provided with information on the sentence, how it operates and when a prisoner is likely to be considered for release.

A victim can make representations to be considered by the Board for licence conditions and will be told the extent to which the representations were considered, and a decision summary can also be requested. A Victim Personal Statement can be produced, and the Victims’ Code will contain a presumption that those who wish to read out their VPS can do so unless there is good reason not to, such as safety or security issues. A victim will also be able to request that their VPS is not disclosed to the offender.

 

Transparency and openness

The Parole Board will publish a series of Standard Practice guidance to provide clear and public information about what sort of information and factors are taken into account in decision making. Consideration was given to allowing public access to hearings; this is not to be allowed due to the privacy, security and practical barriers as the hearings are held in prisons.

 

Evidence requirements

Standard Directions on evidence will be published to make clear the standard requirements for parole cases, and the requirements for a “core dossier” will be set out. New rules on service and transmission of evidence will be introduced along with new timescales. Crucially, guidance has now been issued outlining how wider alleged offending can be taken into account. This means that offences that haven’t resulted in conviction can, for the first time, be considered.

 

Quality assurance

A tailored review (see below) will look at statutory options which could include the creation of quality assurance or inspectorate style functions. Training will take place for members on how to deal with unconvicted offences, and there will be mandatory training on effective questioning skills.

 

Efficiency and effectiveness

Measures are planned to ensure cases are processed and concluded in a robust and timely way. A new Policy Framework will implement identified improvements to timescales, and the Standard Practice guidance will clarify the procedures and processes to follow.

 

What happens now?

Some of these measures are already being introduced and others are expected over the coming months. A Tailored Review of the Parole Board will now take place to consider whether there is a case for further, more fundamental, reforms. This will include considering whether the Parole Board should be reconstituted to become a judge-led tribunal and whether the powers or responsibilities conferred on the Board should be changed.

 

How can we help?

If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, or how your sentence may be affected by this review, please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected].

Causing Death by Dangerous Driving – Sentencing Issues

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In a recent case His Honour Judge Jeremy Richardson QC was faced with the task of sentencing 3 offenders for their part in causing the death of 4 people, and seriously injuring 3 others. The main offender Elliot Bower received a total prison sentence of 11 1/2 years.

The offence of causing death by dangerous driving carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years, but what happens if 4 deaths are caused during a single incident, does the total rise to a maximum of 56 years?

The answer to that question is no, the maximum remains at 14 years.

There is nothing wrong in principle with consecutive prison sentences and had the defendants committed 4 offences over 4 days, causing one death on each occasion, the theoretical maximum open to the Judge would actually have been 56 years (i.e. 4 x 14 years). So, why not in this case?

The Judge was obliged to follow the case of R v Jaynesh Chadusama [2018] EWCA Crim 2867 which led to the Judge observing:

“I am compelled to take 14 years imprisonment as the maximum sentence open to me where multiple fatalities arise from a single incident of dangerous driving.”

The Judge did, however, have the following to say, which indicated his general unease as to the state of the law:

“Before passing sentence, I wish to make this observation. It is my intention to refer these sentencing remarks to the Secretary of State for Transport. I am aware that HM Government has embarked upon a review of extant road traffic legislation including sentencing. It is not for me to recommend changes in the law. I simply invite those who

have that responsibility, namely the Secretary of State, to consider the following point.

It may be worthy of consideration whether a court, when there are multiple deaths arising from a single episode of dangerous driving, particularly when the dangerous driving is of an exceptionally serious kind – as in this case, should have power to impose a higher level of

custodial sentence than would be permitted by the current law.

I merely call this case to the attention of the Secretary of State for consideration.

It is not for me to make this observation, but there may be some who feel that Parliament may wish to revisit the issue of the powers available to a court when sentencing in an exceptionally serious case of this kind.

I repeat what I said earlier – the sentence I pass today is governed by the law which is operational today. I am bound by that law and I shall pass sentence in accordance with it.”

 

Will the law change?

The Attorney General in the days following this case indicated that a change in sentencing policy is likely. This will be more easily achieved not by trying to reverse the rule in R v Jaynesh Chadusama, but by simply increasing the maximum penalty available to one of life imprisonment.

It is also likely that we will see increases in other death by driving sentences, and perhaps even a new offence covering the causing of serious injury.

 

How can we help?

This is only a general overview of the law. For in-depth advice on any criminal law issue, please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] to discuss your case.

Voyeurism and ‘Upskirting’ – Government Acts to Strengthen Law

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The Voyeurism (Offences) (No 2) Bill completed its parliamentary journey on 15th January 2019 and will shortly receive Royal Assent. As the Act will create new criminal offences, the usual convention is that at least two months will pass before the offence comes in to force.

 

Why was this law passed?

This new law deals with ‘upskirting’, which is:

‘…the practice of taking a photograph up a person’s skirt or clothes without their consent.’

Parliament was told that:

“The law in England and Wales does not contain a specific criminal offence for upskirting, and the practice is currently prosecuted under one of two offences: outraging public decency (OPD) or voyeurism. OPD requires that an offence is: “lewd, obscene and disgusting to such an extent as to outrage minimum standards of decency”; two or more persons (excluding the perpetrator) must be present during the act or display, whether or not they are aware of the act or display or are outraged by it; and it must occur in a public place.

Alternatively, the voyeurism offence, contained in section 67 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, stipulates that a person commits an offence where, for the purposes of sexual gratification he/she observes, operates equipment with the intention of enabling another person to observe or records a person doing a private act, knowing the person does not consent. The offence also covers installing equipment to enable either themselves, or another person, to commit an offence of voyeurism.”

Concerns have been expressed that these laws are inadequate in response to upskirting due to the legal requirements necessary to bring the action within the scope of one of the 2 possible offences. Further, as neither of the two options is a sexual offence, any offender will avoid notification requirements (commonly referred to as being put on the sex offenders register).

 

So, what will change?

A new section 67A will be inserted into the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

New section 67A subsection 1 would mean that a person (A) commits an offence if they operate equipment beneath the clothing of another person (B) to allow either themselves or another person (C) to observe person B’s genitals or buttocks or the underwear covering them, in circumstances in which they would otherwise not be visible.

Subsection 2 mirrors the provisions of subsection 1 and would mean that a person committed an offence where a person (A) records an image beneath the clothing of another person (B) which is of B’s genitals or buttocks, or the underwear covering B’s genitals or buttocks, in circumstances where the genitals, buttocks or underwear would otherwise not be visible.

For both offences person A would operate equipment or record an image without B’s consent and without reasonably believing that B consented. In addition, under subsection 3 the purpose of person A in operating equipment (subsection 1) or recording an image (subsection 2) must be:

  • obtaining sexual gratification (whether for A or C);
  • humiliating, alarming or distressing B.

The new offences would be triable either way. The maximum sentence following summary conviction (in a magistrate’s court) would be six months’ imprisonment, or a fine, or both. The maximum sentence following conviction on indictment (at the crown court) would be two years’ imprisonment.

 

Notification Requirements

The new Act will also allow that in certain circumstances offenders could be placed on the sex offenders register. These circumstances are:

  • For offenders aged over 18-years old: the offence was committed for sexual gratification and either the victim was under 18, or the offender has been sentenced to imprisonment; or detained in hospital; or made the subject of a community sentence of at least twelve months.
  • For offenders aged under 18-years old: the offence was committed for sexual gratification and the offender is or has been sentenced to imprisonment for at least twelve months.

 

How can we help?

This is only a general overview of the law. For in-depth advice on any criminal law issue, please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] to discuss your case.

Community Protection Notices

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Community Protection Notices (CPNs) are currently attracting a lot of attention from the legal community, and we have many concerns concerning the way in which they are presently being used.

In a recent case (Stannard v The Crown Prosecution Service [2019] EWHC 84 (Admin)) a CPN in the following terms was challenged:

“The notice now requires that you:

1 – are not to enter the area of Reading Town Centre as defined by the map overleaf unless there is a prearranged appointment with a court or probation worker.

2 – are to give notice of a prearranged appointment to Thames Valley Police by calling ‘101’ at least 24 hours prior to the relevant time.

3 – are not to attend within 100m of any McDonald’s restaurant in Reading.

4 – are not to be in a group of more than 3 individuals including yourself.”

The Appellant submitted at trial that there was no case for him to answer on the alleged breach because the CPN included requirements that were unreasonably wide – in the sense that they were neither necessary nor proportionate to address the risk posed by the Appellant – and it was consequently unlawfully imposed. As a result, the CPN was invalid and could not be enforced against him.

The District Judge rejected that submission on the basis that it was not for her to consider the validity or otherwise of the CPN, and any argument relating to its invalidity could and should have been raised by way of an appeal against the CPN. The trial continued. The judge found the breaches established on the evidence, and the Appellant was convicted.

The central issue raised on this appeal was whether, in the case of a prosecution for breach of a CPN, it is open to a defendant to argue by way of defence that the CPN was and is invalid.

The court ruled that ‘…the District Judge was therefore right to conclude that the CPN was binding on (and enforceable against) the Appellant unless and until it was varied or discharged: accordingly, she could not look behind it and did not have jurisdiction to hear the Appellant’s arguments going to the validity of the CPN.’

However, the court went much further and issued the following guidance which we believe has the potential to be extremely helpful:

“Of course, if the CPN remains as it is, and if the Appellant is again prosecuted for breach, he will not be able to raise the argument he has raised before District Judge Toms and us by way of defence at trial. However, we make clear that, the failure of this appeal does not mean that the Appellant is fixed with the CPN in its current form for evermore. If he has concerns about the scope of the CPN or its indeterminate nature, he should raise them with the Thames Valley Police and seek a variation of the CPN. If they wrongly refuse to vary, judicial review will be available.

More generally, we emphasise that those who are authorised under section 43(1) of the 2014 Act should recognise that they have power not only to issue, but also to vary and discharge a CPN in appropriate circumstances. It is not for this court to tell authorised persons how to go about their decision-making, but we would think it a minimum that such persons should operate a system for receiving and adjudicating requests for variation or discharge of CPNs; and that relevant information should briefly be given with any CPN about how to seek a variation or discharge (e.g. on a change of circumstance), in addition to information required by statute about a statutory appeal.

CPNs constitute a significant interference with an individual’s freedom; they must be clear in their terms and proportionate in their effect. We make two final comments. First, we consider it would be best practice and consistent with legal certainty for any CPN to be limited in time, with that term clearly stated in the CPN. Secondly and more generally, we emphasise the need for authorised persons prior to issuing a CPN to consider with care the prohibitions and restrictions imposed to ensure that they go no further than is necessary and proportionate to address the behaviour which has led to the CPN being made.”

 

How can we help?

We can assist you with all queries relating to Community Protection Notices. This is only a general overview of the law. For in-depth advice, please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] to get in touch and discuss your case.

Government Unveils New Domestic Abuse Legislation

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On Monday the government unveiled its new strategy to tackle domestic abuse.  This follows a consultation exercise carried out last year which drew over 3,000 responses.

The new measures are:

  • Introducing the first ever statutory government definition of domestic abuse, which will include economic abuse
  • Establishing the office of the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and setting out the Commissioner’s functions and powers
  • Providing for a new Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Domestic Abuse Protection Order
  • Prohibiting perpetrators of abuse from directly cross-examining their victims in person in the family courts, and also giving the court discretion to prevent cross-examination in person where it would diminish the quality of the witness’ evidence or cause the witness significant distress
  • Creating a statutory presumption that complainants of an offence involving behaviour which amounts to domestic abuse are eligible for special measures in the criminal courts
  • Enabling domestic abuse offenders to be subject to polygraph testing as a condition of their licence following their release from custody
  • Placing the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme on a statutory footing
  • Ensuring that where a local authority, for reasons connected with domestic abuse, grants a new secure tenancy to a social tenant who had or has a secure lifetime or assured tenancy (other than an assured shorthold tenancy) this must be a secure lifetime tenancy
  • And supporting ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention), by extending the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the criminal courts in England and Wales to further violent and sexual offences.

While we will have to await the passage of the bill through parliament to see the final package, one thing of particular note to us as criminal lawyers is the proposal to create a Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Domestic Abuse Protection Order.

This will be based on the existing regime for criminal behaviour orders (formerly known as ASBOs). Breach of these orders will carry imprisonment of up to 5 years.

While the existing legislative provisions could be used in the context of domestic violence, they rarely are. What we have seen over the years is the specific tailoring of the framework to meet particular problems (in terrorism and trafficking for example). We can, therefore, expect the effect of these orders to impact quickly, resulting in stiff prison sentences for those who breach them. The government estimates that hundreds more offenders may face imprisonment each year.

We do however foresee some real problems. Domestic abuse is a particularly complex societal problem, relationships are often problematic and rocky, and it is possible that breach will be used as a ‘weapon’ against many defendants. It will, therefore, be imperative to ensure that recipients of these orders understand the severe impacts and consequences that will follow. It will also be essential to ensure that orders are only made in appropriate cases.

As a firm, we closely monitor all legislative developments and will keep you updated as the bill progresses through parliament.

 

How can we help?

Cases of alleged domestic violence are important and sensitive cases to deal with. Our specialist lawyers can advise you on whether you have a defence, and help you put that defence forward, advising on prospects of success and navigating a successful path through the long and stressful court process.

This is only a general overview of the law. For in-depth advice, please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] now to get in touch and discuss your case.

Sleepwalking – Is It A Defence?

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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 overnight, and she was alive and well when you went to sleep.

You are arrested and while riding in the back of the police car, can only think that you must have done it while asleep. It sounds almost comical that this could actually be a viable defence, but the reality is that it could well be.

 

Are you guilty?

Sleepwalking is most often used as a defence to violent or sexual offences (often referred to as ‘Sexsomnia’) and is a legitimate defence to both.

It falls under the defence of automatism, which is further broken into two types. Which type of automatism will depend on the cause: internal (insane automatism) or external (simple automatism).

Both of these mean you didn’t act knowingly but acted automatically and without the intention to commit the crime.

It is likely that is this state was brought about as a result of self-induced intoxication, the defence will not be available (Finegan v Heywood The Times, May 10 2000).

 

Insanity or non-insane automatism?

Insane automatism is a more difficult defence to put forward, requiring the defence to prove that it is more likely than not the explanation for the offence, following the rules set out in the M’Naghten case. It also needs medical evidence of an internal cause.

Simple automatism, on the other hand, requires the defence only to provide enough evidence to make the issue “live”, in other words to make it a realistic possibility that you acted unknowingly.

Expert evidence will probably be required in both cases:

“I do not doubt that there are genuine cases of automatism, but I do not see how the layman can safely attempt, without the help of some medical or scientific evidence, to distinguish the genuine from the fraudulent” (Hill v Baxter (1958) 1 Q.B. 277, 42 Cr. App. R. 51).

The prosecution will then have to disprove it so that the jury can be sure you acted knowingly.

There is some legal debate in other jurisdictions concerning the class in which sleepwalking might fall, but the courts in England and Wales are yet to grapple with this. Which is just as well, as the law is complicated enough as it is.

 

What are the outcomes?

Non-insane automatism, if accepted, will lead to a simple acquittal: not guilty.

Insane automatism is slightly trickier and results in a special verdict: not guilty by reason of insanity. The sentencing options available to a judge are then limited to an absolute discharge, a supervision order, or a hospital order.

 

How can we help?

Sleepwalking cases are important and sensitive cases to deal with. Our specialist lawyers can advise you on whether you have a defence, and help you put that defence forward, advising on prospects of success and instructing experts to help along the way.

This is only a general overview of the law. For in-depth advice, please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] now to get in touch and discuss your case.

Plead in Haste, Regret at Leisure

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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 pressured into entering a plea without having had the advantage of legal advice.

It is vital in all cases that legal advice is sought as early as possible to ensure the best outcome can be secured.

Many people believe that following a guilty plea, it is a straightforward matter to change their mind and enter a not-guilty plea instead. The reality, however, is that reversing a guilty plea can often be very difficult and requires a carefully crafted legal argument to be presented to the court.

Ordinarily, a court will only set-aside a guilty plea if it can be shown that the plea is equivocal.

The relevant principles have been rehearsed in many cases, but perhaps most famously in P. Foster (Haulage) Ltd v Roberts [1978] 2 All ER 751 where the court observed:

“For a plea to be equivocal the defendant must add to the plea of guilty a qualification which, if true, may show that he is not guilty of the offence charged. An example of this type of qualification is found where a man charged with handling a stolen motor car pleads ‘guilty to handling but I didn’t know it was stolen’. It is not every qualification which makes a plea of guilty equivocal; for example, the burglar charged with stealing spoons, forks and a camera, who pleads ‘guilty but I did not take the camera’ is making an unequivocal plea to burglary.”

Other factors, such as being influenced by a belief only a guilty plea would secure bail, may also result in a plea being judged as equivocal.

In a number of recent cases, a plea has been treated as equivocal where the defendant was not informed of a legal defence that was available to him, resulting in convictions being set-aside.

In Malak [2018] EWCA Crim 1693 a case where the appellant was not informed by his barrister of an available defence the court held:

“We agree with counsel’s description of the oversight as rather fundamental. This was a clear case of an equivocal plea, as [the prosecution] accepts.”

This is an interesting observation by the Court of Appeal as many defendants who enter pleas in the absence of legal advice would have little if any legal knowledge, it suggests that the scope for setting aside a guilty plea may well be broader than many lawyers appreciate.

In appropriate cases, we may also be able to review the advice given by former lawyers to ensure the correctness of any plea.

 

How we can help

If you require legal advice concerning any prosecution, please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] as soon as possible.

End of The Road for Short Prison Sentences?

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The big news story of the weekend was the surprising news that the Prisons Minister is considering whether to abolish the power to impose short prison sentences, those of 6 months or less.

Arguing for the need for reform, Mr Stewart told the Daily Telegraph Magazine: “You bring somebody in for three or four weeks, they lose their house, their job, their family, their reputation.

“They come (into prison), they meet a lot of interesting characters (to put it politely) and then you whap them on to the streets again.

“The public are safer if we have a good community sentence… and it will relieve a lot of pressure on prisons.”

Short sentences are seen as ineffective, allowing little if any time for rehabilitation and causing massive disruption to offender’s lives, resulting in even higher rates of repeat offending.

Supporters of the shorter sentence point to the salutary effects of a ‘short, sharp shock’ and community respite from offending.

This is one of those debates where there is at least some evidence to support all viewpoints.

But it does beg the broader question of what prison is for. Is it to deter, punish, rehabilitate, something else, or a combination of things.

Once we work out what we seek to achieve by imprisonment, the question then to be asked is, does it work?

Take a case in point also reported this weekend – two brothers imprisoned for three months following a conviction for perverting the course of justice (trying to evade penalty points for a road traffic offence).

Did imprisonment deter them? Clearly not. Will it punish them? The answer to that is clearly yes, but if they then lose their jobs and homes, is it disproportionate? Could we have imposed an altogether different and more worthwhile punishment, such as unpaid work in the community?

The answer to these and other questions concerning penal policy have been debated for a very long time, and traditionally, political parties have avoided any debate that has a flavour of being ‘soft on crime’.

So, it is refreshing to see a government minister willing to grapple with these complex issues, for the greater good.

Any change will require legislation so should not be expected for another 12 months or so, but in the meantime, it does allow advocates an opportunity to debate these issues with sentencing judges.

Maybe, just maybe, even the introduction of this debate might save some defendants from unnecessary and damaging short prison sentences. We shall certainly try.

 

How we can help

If you require legal advice concerning any prosecution, please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected] as soon as possible.