Civil Contingencies Act, Martial Law and a State of Emergency

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The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 confers a power to make regulations if an ‘emergency’ has occurred or is about to occur. In other words, a power to declare a state of emergency and make regulations to deal with it.

The reason that this is currently interesting is that the definition of emergency within the Act may arise in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal. So, what are the powers?

‘Emergency’ means an event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare or the environment in the UK, or war or terrorism which threatens serious damage to the security of the UK.

An event or situation threatens damage to human welfare if it involves, causes or may cause:

  •    loss of human life;
  •    human illness or injury;
  •    homelessness;
  •    damage to property;
  •    disruption of a supply of money, food, water, energy or fuel;
  •    disruption of a system of communication;
  •    disruption of facilities for transport;
  •    disruption of services relating to health.

The conditions for making emergency regulations are somewhat vague with a wide discretion; there are three conditions to satisfy:

  1.    An emergency has occurred, is occurring or is about to occur
  2.    It is necessary to make provision for the purpose of preventing, controlling or mitigating an aspect or effect of the emergency
  3.    The need for provision referred to in (2) is urgent.

Emergency regulations may make any provision that is appropriate to prevent, control or mitigate any aspect of, or effect of, the emergency. Regulations may prohibit:

  •    movement to or from a specified place;
  •    assemblies of specified kinds, at specified places or at specified times;
  •    travel at specified times;
  •    specified activities.

Regulations may also:

  •    enable the requisition or confiscation of property (with or without compensation);
  •    enable the destruction of property, animal life or plant life (with or without compensation);
  •    require movement to or from a specified place.

Regulations may also make it an offence to fail to comply with a provision of the regulations or to comply with a direction given or to obstruct a person in the performance of a function under the regulations. Punishment cannot exceed 3 months imprisonment or a Level 5 fine.

Emergency regulations lapse after 30 days, but this does not prevent new regulations being made.

How we can assist

We always keep up to date with legislation and powers such as those listed above. We will be in the best place to advise you should any emergency regulations be made. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected].

Facilitating Tax Evasion

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HMRC is reported to be investigating alleged violations of a new criminal offence, part of the crackdown on money laundering, for the first time.

A freedom of information request made by law firm Greenberg Taurig revealed there are five current criminal investigations.

The Criminal Finances Act 2017 introduced the new offence of failing to prevent the facilitation of UK tax evasion. The aim of the government was for relevant bodies to be held criminally liable where they fail to prevent those who act for, or on their behalf, from criminally facilitating tax evasion.

What is the actual offence?

The offence is committed where a relevant body fails to prevent an associated person criminally facilitating the evasion of a tax.

Previously in order to attribute criminal liability to a relevant body, you would have to show that senior members of that body were aware and involved, which was much harder.

Tax evasion is defined as an offence amounting to a cheat of the public revenue or any offence consisting of being knowingly concerned in or taking steps with a view to the fraudulent evasion of tax. The offence is only committed where a UK tax evasion offence has been committed if a tax-payer is non-compliant or engaged in avoidance falling short of evasion the offence is not committed.

Facilitation of tax evasion compromises being knowingly concerned in, or taking steps with a view to, the tax evasion of another, as well as aiding and abetting another person’s offence of tax evasion. It is not a criminal offence if an associated person inadvertently or negligently facilitates another’s tax evasion. The facilitation has to be criminal.

The associated person has to commit the offence in the capacity of a person associated with the relevant body. So, if an employee criminally facilitates tax evasion in the course of their private life, they commit an offence but not this one.

Where a tax evasion offence has been committed, and a person acting in the capacity of a person associated with the relevant body has committed a tax evasion facilitation offence, the relevant body will be guilty of the offence.

It is a defence for the relevant body to have in place reasonable prevention procedures, those designed to prevent persons associated with it from committing facilitation offences. This could include regular staff training, contractual terms, compliance monitoring and clear reporting procedures. It is also a defence if it is not reasonable to expect the relevant body to have such procedures.

What is the penalty?

The offence is punishable by way of an unlimited fine and can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. There will of course be significant reputational damage to the company and those in charge.

In their 2018 business plan, HMRC set out their target of 100 investigations per year.

The fact that there are only five currently outstanding may be a surprise in the context of their stated intention or may mean that more investigations are imminent.

How we can assist

If you are concerned for yourself or your company, it is important to seek early advice – our criminal law experts are well placed to guide you through this regulatory minefield. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected].

Prosecution Time Limits

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Last week the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson suggested a 10-year time limit ( a Statute of Limitations) on the prosecution of soldiers accused of murder during military engagement. This proposal was in response to reports that British soldiers may face prosecution over deaths during the Northern Ireland troubles in the 1970s and 80s.

So, what time limits if any currently apply in England and Wales?

We categorise offences into three groups:

(1) Summary only offences – offences that can only be tried in the magistrates’ court.

(2) Indictable offences (or either-way offences) – offences that may be tried either in the magistrates’ court or the crown court.

(2) Indictable only offences – offences that may only be tried in the crown court.

 

Summary Only Offences

In general, proceedings must be commenced within six months of the criminal act that is being complained of.

There are however lots of exceptions to this, in particular, affecting welfare benefits, regulatory crime, animal cruelty and immigration cases. These exceptions allow proceedings to be commenced much later (sometimes as much as three years) if certain conditions are met.

There is a great deal of case law concerning the calculation of time limits, and it is common to see offences commenced in breach of the rules. When spotted, this will bring the prosecution to a halt.

With the new Single Justice Procedure for road traffic, railways and other offences, we are seeing an alarming number of cases being charged in breach of statutory time limits – if in doubt, please check with us.

 

Other cases

In relation to indictable and indictable only cases, the starting point is that there is no time limit.

It is very common to see offences, particularly sexual offences, prosecuted a great many years after the events complained of.

Historical (alleged) sexual and other offences can create significant difficulties for defendants so many years after the alleged events as it can make defences such as alibi all the more difficult to establish.

As time passes so too does witness memory and recollection, false accounts can seem correct ones, and important evidence can disappear.

The response of the Court of Appeal to these defence complaints is that they are a ‘matter for the jury’ and can be dealt with by directions to the jury to make proper allowance, and of course, only convict if sure.

Wherever possible we look to explore other appropriate avenues to redress the balance.

This may take the form of an application to exclude evidence, or an application to bring the case to a halt (referred to as ‘staying proceedings’) as to continue would amount to an ‘abuse of process’.

 

Is an abuse of process argument easy to win?

No, an abuse of process argument is notoriously difficult to win. This leads many to believe that they are therefore mostly pointless and, in those circumstances, don’t bother at all.

This is not a strategy that we believe in, and we will always advance arguments where there is a prospect of success.

In Attorney-General’s Reference (No 1 of 1990) [1992] QB 630 the court held:

“Firstly, it is for the defence to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that the continuation of the proceedings would amount to an abuse of the process of the Court and should, therefore, be stayed.

Secondly, stays of proceedings in such circumstances should be the exception rather than the rule, and where the application for a stay is based on delay a stay should be an exception rather than the rule even if the stay could be said to be unjustifiable. Still more rarely should a stay be imposed in the absence of any fault on the part of the complainant. No stay should be imposed unless the defendant shows, on the balance of probabilities, that because of the delay he will suffer serious prejudice to the extent that no fair trial can be held.

The third proposition of law that seems to me to arise from the authorities is that the judge considering an application to stay of this kind may have regard to his powers to exclude evidence, to give appropriate directions to the jury about the delay, and in particular to give directions to the jury about the difficulties which the delay has presented to the defence.

The fourth relevant proposition of law, as it seems to me, is that the judge may also take into account the extent to which a prosecution case depends on contemporaneous documents. The more it does so, the more difficult it will be for a defendant to establish that an indictment will be stayed.

Fifthly, where delay results from the reticence of an alleged victim in reporting an allegation of sexual abuse, one is entitled to adopt an understanding attitude towards the difficulties that can be encountered by such witnesses in making complaints about sexual abuse.”

A seemingly more liberal approach was taken in R (Flaherty) v City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court [2008] EWHC 2589 (Admin) where a delay of 2 years (inactivity of the prosecution) during enforcement proceedings was held to amount to an abuse of process, and in Ali v CPS [2007] EWCA Crim 691 where a delay of 7 years was sufficient to support a stay for abuse where documentary evidence pertinent to the complainant’s credibility had been lost.

 

How we can assist

We understand the complexities of criminal law and fight hard on your behalf. To discuss any criminal law matter, please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected].

Knife Crime – Searching for Solutions

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The Home Secretary will this week hold an urgent meeting with police chiefs to discuss the recent rise in knife crime. This follows another week of senseless killings and the publication of figures that show the number of people aged 16 and under being stabbed rose by 93% between 2016 and 2018.

Channel 4 found, after analysing Freedom of Information request responses from 29 out of 43 police forces, that the number of police-recorded offenders aged under 18 committing homicides using a knife or sharp instrument rose by 77% from 26 to 46 from 2016 to 2018.

The Home Office has responded with a number of measures including an extra £970m for policing in 2019-2020.

As is generally the case, the government is also proposing supposedly tough new legislation to deal with offenders caught with a knife.

An amendment to the Offensive Weapons Bill, which is currently before parliament, proposes a new Knife Crime Prevention Order, or a ‘Knife Asbo’ as it is already being dubbed.

 

What is a Knife Crime Prevention Order?

It is proposed that anyone aged 12 or over can be subject to a Knife Crime Prevention Order (KCPO) if:

a) they are found to be carrying, without good reason, a bladed article in a public

place (including a school) twice in a period of two years, and

b) the court believes it is necessary to impose and order to protect the public or

prevent the young person from committing a crime with a bladed article.

Applications for KCPOs can only be made by chief police officers, or the chief constable of the British Transport Police or the Ministry of Defence Police. Before making the application, if the defendant is under the age of 18, the relevant person must consult with the Youth Offending Team (YOT) for the area that the young person lives in.

The KCPO can require that a person:

  • is in a particular place on specified days or between particular times
  • reports to a specified individual on specified days/times
  • participates in specific activities.

It can also prohibit the person from:

  • being in particular places
  • being with particular people
  • taking part in specified activities
  • using or having specified articles with them
  • using the internet to facilitate or encourage crimes using bladed articles.

A KCPO would last between six months and two years. Breach of the KCPO would result in:

a) on summary conviction, imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, a fine or to both;

b) on conviction on indictment, imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, a fine or to both.

 

Will these new orders work?

A great many people, including the Magistrates’ Association, have expressed doubts as to whether these new orders will do anything to address the complex root problems of offending.

 

How we can help

We continuously monitor new develops in criminal law, as even government proposals can sometimes trigger changes in judicial behaviour when it comes to bail and sentencing. It is our job to ensure the law that is in force now is appropriately applied.  

We also play a vital role in challenging the boundaries of new legislation and will be keeping a close watch on these draconian orders to ensure that justice is appropriately done in all cases.

If you need assistance with any criminal law matter, then please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected].

Counterfeit Currency – You May Pay a Very High Price

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In straitened financial circumstances, it can be tempting to consider purchasing counterfeit money. While the price of such ‘currency’ fluctuates widely, it is often as low as 25% of the face value, making it a tempting proposition.

State currency producers spend millions each year on devising and improving security safeguards, and that counterfeit currency can still be passed off for real reveals something of this hidden world of criminality.

To produce high-quality counterfeit currency requires an investment in expensive print technology and in the main the people responsible for such enterprises are sophisticated and organised criminal gangs, using fake money sales to finance illegal drugs, weapons and trafficking activities. It is this link to organised crime that requires courts to pass deterrent sentences on those caught.

The circulation of counterfeit currency is also a threat to the broader economy.

 

The Potential Consequences

Non-custodial sentences are almost unheard of, even for the use of a single note or coin.

In Corcoran [2013] EWCA Crim 2750 where a single £50 note was passed, a sentence of 6 months imprisonment was imposed by the Court of Appeal (following a guilty plea).

In Miller [2010] EWCA Crim 257, 2 years imprisonment was reduced to 15 months imprisonment.  Miller passed 3 counterfeit £20 notes, 3 more were found in his possession.

The Court of Appeal has stated:

“We observe, as other constitutions of this court have done on previous occasions, that in view of the potential harm to the United Kingdom economy an immediate custodial sentence would almost invariably be required in cases such as this. However, its term will depend upon the

factual circumstances of the instant case. One of the most important factors will be the number of counterfeit notes involved, which will give some indication as to the proximity of the offender to the source of the notes.”

The maximum sentence for tendering counterfeit currency is ten years imprisonment.

For those involved in the production of notes or coins, severe sentences typically follow, and a court may also consider making a preventative order (e.g. Karra and Karra [2015] EWCA Crim 2282).

In Crick [1981] 3 Cr App R (S) 275 the court observed:

“Coining is a serious offence. It was rightly treated as such by the learned judge, who correctly took the view that it called for an immediate custodial sentence. It must, however, be recognised that not all such offences are of the same gravity. At one extreme is the professional forger, with carefully prepared plates, and elaborate machinery, who manufactures large quantities of bank notes and puts them into circulation. A long sentence of imprisonment is appropriate in such a case. Here the offence is at the other end of the scale. The tools used to make the blanks were primitive, and were not acquired specially for the purpose; the techniques used were amateurish, and there was little real attempt to make the blanks a facsimile of a 50 pence piece. The coins were not, and could not have been, put into general circulation.”

 

How We Can Assist

If you require advice concerning any criminal law matter, then please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected]ors.com.

Modern Slavery – A Defence to Drug Dealing and other offences?

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The short answer is: maybe.

Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 provides a defence to specific criminal charges where it is shown that they were committed under a compulsion due to slavery or exploitation (for over-18s) or as a direct consequence of slavery or exploitation (for under-18s).

The latter test, for children, is less difficult to establish. It is a defence similar to duress.

It can, for example, be used for drugs offences committed as part of a ‘County Lines’ drugs ring.

 

What else is modern slavery a defence to?

The modern slavery defence can be used for any criminal offence not listed in Schedule 4 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

It can’t be used for serious crimes like murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, piracy, serious violence, firearms offences, robbery, burglary, arson, criminal damage, most sexual offences, or modern slavery offences themselves. There are other offences to which the defence does not apply.

It can be used as a defence to any other crime. It is used for victims of ‘County Lines’ drugs offences but also applies to most immigration offences, minor assaults, theft, or conspiracy to do any of these things. Anyone who is trafficked or exploited can potentially benefit from it.

Children may be exploited for a variety of reasons by gangs and used to carry and supply drugs. Children who are particularly vulnerable are often targeted, and they may feel that they can’t tell anyone in case they are arrested and punished.

 

What needs to be proved?

The defence requires several things, depending on a person’s age. In both cases, they need to be a victim of slavery or exploitation.

Those over 18 rely on s.45(1), where they are not guilty if:

1) The crime is committed because they are made to do it

2) They are made to do it for some reason connected to the slavery or exploitation

3) A reasonable person, with the same characteristics, would not have had a realistic alternative in that situation.

A person under 18 relies on s.45(4), where they are not guilty if:

1) The crime is committed as a result of the person being or having been in the past, a victim of slavery or exploitation, and

2) A reasonable person, with the same characteristics, would have done the same.

The defence for under-18s is less difficult to establish, reflecting the increased vulnerability of children.

A person has to raise enough evidence for it to be possible that they are a victim of slavery of exploitation within the meaning of the Act. The prosecution will have to disprove that beyond a reasonable doubt.

If they cannot, a person then has to show it’s possible that the offence was carried out either under a compulsion relevant to (over-18) or as a direct consequence of (under-18), that slavery or exploitation. This, again, will have to be disproven beyond a reasonable doubt.

If the prosecution cannot disprove either of these things, then the defence succeeds.

 

How can we help?

Modern slavery 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.

We are experts at dealing with vulnerable clients and children, including many victims of exploitation by ‘County Lines’ drug gangs.

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].

GPS Electronic Monitoring, Big Brother Will be Watching

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The government has announced a national rollout of GPS electronic tagging which will mean 24/7 location monitoring of those wearing the tag.

The tag is now available in three Probation areas; the North West, Midlands and North East. Location monitoring will go live in the South East, South West and Wales by April 2019.

There will also be a pilot in London to monitor offenders released from prison for knife-related offences.

The rollout follows a 15-month pilot in 3 areas and an independent process evaluation of the GPS location monitoring pilot has informed the rollout process.

 

How the GPS tag works

The tag remotely captures and records information on an individual’s whereabouts at all times. The tag receives location signals from satellites and then communicates location data via a mobile phone network to a case management system.

 

Who is the tag for?

The tag is for individuals who would benefit from their whereabouts being monitored in the context of violent offences (including domestic violence), harassment, gang crime, football-related offences and multiple theft offences. An assessment will take place on the basis of risk level, previous offending, motivation to change, ability to manage the tag and other sentence requirements. In the pilot scheme, those without a fixed address or with serious identified mental health or learning disabilities were not suitable.

In particular, it is for:

  •    Individuals on court-imposed bail who would otherwise be remanded in custody;
  •    Offenders given a suspended sentence order or community order who would otherwise have been given a short custodial sentence;
  •    Offenders on HDC where risk could be managed more effectively by a GPS tag than a radio frequency (curfew) tag;
  •    Offenders not complying with licence conditions where enforcement action was being considered and offenders being considered for re-release after recall; and
  •    Offenders on a life sentence or IPP being considered for release by the Parole Board.

In respect of court-imposed bail, individual police forces can choose to roll out the service as soon as it is available in their region, so even if you are in one of the newly introduced areas this may not be an option for you yet.

 

What is the tag for, are there any benefits?

The tag is said to support effective management of offenders and those on court bail in four ways:

  •    Offender rehabilitation;
  •    Facilitating risk management;
  •    Informing decisions about whether a wearer should be recalled to custody or court
  •    Providing evidence to exonerate or link a wearer to a crime.

A benefit is seen in the more detailed information that is received from the monitoring centre in respect of non-compliance or breach. This provides more nuanced intelligence about behaviour to enable informed decisions on action to be taken over a breach or non—compliance. Rehabilitation is supported as access is gained to historical data as to how the wearer spends his time which helps inform discussion in relation to lifestyle and behaviour and identify potential concerns.

In addition to relieving pressures of other rehabilitative services, there is an obvious benefit in the safeguarding of victims.

 

Conditions

Location monitoring can be used to enforce an exclusion zone from an area or specific address; the tag will vibrate to remind the wearer if they are in a prohibited area. A restriction could be imposed from going within a certain distance from a given point or address of a victim or known criminal associate. The tag can also be used to enforce attendance at specific activities or appointments, as well as stand-alone monitoring and/or a curfew.

 

Are there any concerns to be addressed?

The review that followed the pilot identified a number of potential issues that should be addressed before a national rollout. These were gaps in the infrastructure, adequate processes being in place to support effective information sharing, staffing levels, a lack of detail in reports and interpretation of the information, delays in notification of breaches and problems with the daily requirement for charging of the tag.

 

How can we help?

It is hoped that the potential issues outlined above have been addressed prior to the rollout, but as with anything new, there may be teething problems. If this affects you and your tag, we can help you. We can advise you whether you would be considered for such monitoring and/or whether it is appropriate in your case.

Should you wish to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at [email protected].

New Anti-Terrorism Powers

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The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 has completed its parliamentary journey and will, in the main, come in to effect over the next few months.

The Home Secretary Sajid Javid claims that the Act:

‘…ensures sentencing for certain terrorism offences can properly reflect the severity of the crimes, as well as preventing re-offending and disrupting terrorist activity more rapidly.’

 

What are the key changes?

A new power to stop, question, search and detain an individual at a port or border area to determine whether they are, or have been, involved in hostile state activity.

A new offence of entering or remaining in an area outside the United Kingdom that has been designated by the Home Secretary if it is necessary for protecting the public from terrorism.

Updating the offence of obtaining information likely to be useful to a terrorist to cover material that is only viewed or streamed, rather than downloaded to form a permanent record.

Extending the offence of inviting support for a proscribed organisation.

A requirement for terrorist offenders to provide additional information to the police in line with what registered sex offenders must provide.

 

Sentencing changes

Section 38B TA 2000 – a new maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment (previously 5 years)

Section 58 TA 2000 – a new maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment (previously 10 years)

Section 58A TA 2000 – a new maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment (previously 10 years)

Section 1 TA 2006 – a new maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment (previously 7 years)

Section 2 TA 2006 – a new maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment (previously 7 years)

 

Overseas Production Orders

In addition to the new Terrorism Act, where a relevant international agreement is in place, the new Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Act 2019 will allow police and prosecutors quicker access to electronic data held outside of the UK, supporting investigations into crimes such as child sexual exploitation and terrorism.

The act gives law enforcement agencies and prosecutors the power to obtain electronic data directly from an overseas communications service provider (CSP). There is already a similar process for UK law enforcement to obtain information from UK companies.

The UK is currently in the process of negotiating a data access agreement with the United States, where the world’s largest CSPs are based.

Currently, when law enforcement agencies want access to data held by a CSP overseas, mutual legal assistance channels are used which can take anywhere from six months to two years, resulting in delayed or sometimes abandoned investigations or prosecutions.

The act gives law enforcement agencies the ability to apply to a UK judge for an overseas production order which, if granted, will require the specified CSP to provide, or allow access to, stored electronic data for investigating and prosecuting serious crimes.

The overseas production order would give the police and prosecutors the ability to seek access to the required electronic data, such as messages, files and pictures, directly from the overseas CSP, reducing the time it takes to days or weeks.

The process will remain subject to robust judicial oversight and protections for legally privileged material and journalistic data have been written into law.

The legislation also requires the government to seek death penalty assurances in any relevant international agreement.

 

How we can assist

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

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].