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Posts Tagged ‘Criminal defence’

Ever felt like you were being watched?

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It’s a staggering fact that the UK represents 1% of the world’s population and has 20% of all CCTV cameras! Totalitarian regimes throughout the world do not come anywhere near our ratio of one camera to every 14 people. The average Londoner can be monitored by up to 300 cameras in a day. Recently, the Government’s Privacy Watchdog, the Information Commissioner, warned that the UK was becoming a “surveillance society”.

Despite all this monitoring, local authorities are allowed to use directed surveillance to investigate offences, which attract sentences of six months or more or relate to the underage sale of alcohol or tobacco, but only if they have obtained the approval of a Magistrate. The Magistrate can give approval to use any one of three covert investigatory techniques namely: Directed Surveillance, Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS) and Accessing Communications Data. This control by Magistrates was the result of a law change on 1st November 2012 to prevent local authorities from utilising their surveillance capabilities in a disproportionate manner. For example, before the law change an internal local authority authorisation could allow covert surveillance to be used for minor offences such as dog fouling and littering!

In 2012 the law was changed for the better and, in addition, in all cases, decisions by local authorities to grant or renew the authorisation of covert techniques will take effect only when an order approving the authorisation has been granted by a Justice of the Peace. So, despite all this surveillance of the UK population, there are at least some controls being applied in the interests of basic human rights.

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Appeal granted for prison law legal aid

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We’re pleased to hear that the fight by two charities campaigning against cuts to prison law legal aid has not been in vain as the Court of Appeal granted permission to appeal the High Court’s rejection of the challenge in March 2014.

Following the lord chancellor’s decision on large cuts to prison law legal aid, including cases involving mother and baby units, The Howard League and the Prisoners’ Advice Service have challenged the verdict with claims that it ‘undermines prisoners’ rights and rehabilitation and end up costing the taxpayer more’.

The campaign argues that the removal of legal aid for a small number of important Parole Board cases and for a range of cases affecting prisoners’ progress through their sentence towards release are unlawful.

At O’Garra’s our service and commitment does not stop at the Courtroom door. We very much support the rights our clients who become prisoners. Which is why fully support the challenge to appeal. If you want advice and representation on prisoners and their rights find out more here.

We’ll keep you updated on the progress of the Charities’ appeal. If you want to discuss this article further, we’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions. Join us on Twitter @OGarras