Planning Law – An expensive business

[Image credit: “Tree” by -epsilon- is licensed under CC BY 2.0] It can be quite tempting to ignore planning laws in the hope that changes you make to buildings and environment will not be noticed. In our experience, it is quite surprising just how often these breaches come to the attention of the authorities, suggesting that many in society

Encrypted electronic communications

[Image credit: “communication” by urbanfeel is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0] ‘Encrochat’ provided an encrypted telephone network that was said to be popular with criminals for its encrypted messaging. Recent joint police operations in Europe allowed officers to hack into the software resulting in the arrest of 746 suspected criminals in the UK. Across Europe, there have been further

Covert Human Intelligence Sources

[Image credit: “Secret Agent Man” by Grempz is licensed under CC BY 2.0] The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons. The MP who is Minister for Security, James Brokenshire, set out the purposes of the Bill during the Second Reading debate. “…the Bill deals with participation in criminal conduct

Search warrants

[Image credit: “Day 255 – West Midlands Police – Searching using torch (Part of an officers Personal Protective Equipment Kit.” by West Midlands Police is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0] The Law Commission has recommended reforms that it says will reduce the number of unlawful search warrants being issued, and to assist in the collection of evidence and investigation

Memory Fallibility

[Image credit: “confuse” by Tall Chris is licensed under CC BY 2.0] In the criminal courts, we are seeing an ever-increasing number of cases where the court hears evidence from witnesses recounting what apparently happened some years earlier. Of course, in many cases, some of that evidence would have been recorded at the time, by way of a witness

Disclosure of criminal records

[Image credit: “Forgive.” by Tony Webster is licensed under CC BY 2.0] The government has recently approved a proposal to reform the disclosure of criminal records. A review of the sentencing system found that a critical element in reducing offending was having access to employment. Having unspent convictions can be a barrier to gaining employment, so the proposal is

A Smarter Approach to Sentencing?

[Image credit: “Day 165 – West Midlands Police – Arresting suspected offenders” by West Midlands Police is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0] 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

Recovery plan for the criminal courts

[Image credit: “Coronavirus COVID 19” by https://www.vperemen.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0] 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

Indictments – The Basics

[Image credit: “The Royal Courts of Justice” by R/DV/RS is licensed under CC BY 2.0] An analysis of criminal appeals reveals that indictment errors, often undetected at the trial stage, can lead to significant injustice. However, the Court of Appeal will not quash a conviction merely because there was some unfairness in the trial process; it will only do

Secrets and spies

[Image credit: “Spies” by western4uk is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0] The Official Secrets Act protects the United Kingdom from spying and leaks. The legislation dates back to 1911, 1920, 1939 and was last updated in 1989. Since then, there have been many advances in data technology and communications affecting the nature of unauthorised disclosures and espionage. As a