Sunday, 27 February 2011

"Big Brother" powers - the Protection of Freedoms Bill No. 5

"Big brother" was the dictator of the totalitarian State "Oceania" in George Orwell's famously predictive book "1984."   Life in the "Airstrip One" province of Oceania was one of perpetual war, ceaseless surveillance by the government and "mind control" in which the individual was entirely subordinated to the State.  Everyone was watched by "telescreens" - a form of surveillance camera.

Fortunately, in the United Kingdom we are far from being like "Airstrip One" but there are serious concerns about the degree of surveillance over citizens which takes place.  The State has powers - exercisable through its various agencies - to engage in interception of communications, "bugging" of premises (including vehicles) and covert surveillance in its various forms (directed surveillance, intrusive surveillance and covert human intelligence sources).  These activities are subject

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Even more fisticuffs with Europe is likely ... whole life tariffs for murder under challenge

The Press Association (26th February) - "Killers contest whole life tariff" - is the claim being made in the European Court of Human Rights by three men - Jeremy Bamber, Peter Moore and Douglas Vinter - who are serving "whole life tariffs" for murder.  In English law, a sentence of life imprisonment is the mandatory sentence for a person convicted of murder.  (This has been the position since 1965 when the death penalty for murder was abolished).  When sentencing an individual, the judiciary determine a "tariff" which is the time to be served before the individual becomes eligible to be considered by the Parole Board for release on licence.   A small number of prisoners are serving "whole life tariffs."  In a recent case (Coonan) the Appeal (Criminal Division) insisted that a whole life tariff was appropriate in the case of Peter Coonan (formerly Sutcliffe).

In the case of present day offenders, tariffs are governed by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 Schedule 21.   However, Schedule 22 applies to sentencing to the mandatory life sentence after 18th December 2003 where the offence was committed before that date.  It should be noted that there is a separate power under which the Secretary of State may release a prisoner on compassionate grounds.

It would be hard to think of any issue more likely to bring the present U.K. government on to a collision course with Strasbourg and there is little doubt that, for the very worst murder cases, the British public would side with the government in opposition to any decision to rule out the whole life tariff.  Such a schism might well prove to be injurious to longer term human rights protection in the U.K.

Addendum:  In 2002 the Criminal Cases Review Commission referred Jeremy Bamber's case to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division).  The trigger for the appeal was new scientific evidence but further grounds of appeal were added.  The court's judgment may be read here.

Further article appears on UK Human Rights blog - "When does "life" mean life?"

Friday, 25 February 2011

Constitutional Reform ... House of Lords Inquiry

Recent years have seen a large number of legal reforms which may fairly be described as "constitutional" in nature.  Examples include devolution (e.g. Scotland Act 1998); the setting up of the Supreme Court (Constitutional Reform Act 2005) and placing the civil service on a statutory basis (Constitutional Governance and Reform Act 2010)  The present coalition government has also got a considerable appetite for constitutional legislation - for example, the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 and the  Fixed Term Parliaments Bill

The House of Lords Constitution Committee is now examining the processes by which constitutional reform is brought about.  This is an important development about which little seems to have been heard.  The committee is to address concerns that the change processes are rushed resulting in badly thought-through reforms which have unintended consequences.  How can the process of reform be improved and what should be the role of Parliament?  The Committee's Chairman - Baroness Jay of Paddington - stated that it was not acceptable for far-reaching changes to be introduced in ad hoc ways.

It is possible for individuals and organisations

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Julian Assange Extradition: Legal Aid: David Chaytor



Julian Assange has lost his extradition hearing at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court.  An appeal is almost certain.  The Guardian 24th February 2011.   Previous posts looking at aspects of this case are: "How the EU continues to expand its influence over criminal matters" (8/12/10); "Julian Assange and bail" (15/12/10) and "Miscellany of News" (12/1/11).  There is no bail system in Sweden.  It is interesting how, for a Member State of the Council of Europe, such a position appears to have escaped a human rights challenge.

Read the Assange Judgment here.   Further discussion on U.K. Human Rights blog (Adam Wagner).

Update - the reader may wish to look at the Guardian article by Mark Stephens - solicitor for Julian Assange.  "Demand open justice for Julian Assange." 

Legal Aid - the judges respond to the government's proposals:

The Judiciary has issued its response to the government's proposals to reform legal aid.  If implemented, the proposals would deny access to justice for much of the population.  The judges' views are worth reading since little in the proposals escapes criticism.  See Judiciary of England and Wales 24th February.

"Legal aid cuts will cost more in long run, say Judges" - Afua Hirsch in The Guardian 24th February.  This perhaps states the fairly obvious point that the government is in danger of being "penny-wise: pound foolish."  Furthermore, relatively cheap but timely advice can often save much more expensive litigation.  Against this background of planned cuts to legal aid the Law Society Gazette notes that Conservative MP Kris Hopkins asked Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly M.P. about progress in recouping outstanding financial penalties which remain uncollected by Her Majesty's Court Service.  No satisfactory answer was received.  The amount is a huge £1.3 billion.

Read about The Law Society's Campaign - "Sound off for Justice - Don't be silenced in court."


Jailed former M.P. to seek leave to appeal his sentence:

The former MP Mr David Chaytor is to seek leave to appeal against his sentence - BBC 24th February.  In January, Mr Chaytor was sentenced by Saunders J to 18 months imprisonment on 3 counts of False Accounting - see "18 months imprisonment for former M.P. David Chaytor" (7/1/11).  However, the application will not be heard until 22nd March.  Mr. Chaytor

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A further bout with Strasbourg coming up? Compensation for miscarriage of justice and Cornish Pasties.

Argentoratum locutum, iudicium finitum

According to The Times (22nd February) Britain's most senior judges have warned that the European Court of Human Rights has rejected fundamental rules of criminal evidence enacted by Parliament to ensure that criminals do not escape conviction in cases where the evidence in question is a "hearsay" statement or statements from witnesses who cannot be present at the trial either due to death or fear.  Parliament enacted the Criminal Justice Act 2003 Part 11 Chapter 2 which reformed the law relating to the admissibility of hearsay in criminal cases.  In particular, section 116 deals with cases where the witness is unavailable for various reasons set out in s.116(2).  The trial judge must give leave to admit the statement of the witness.  The intention of Parliament was to enact a new code for the admissibility of hearsay evidence and to provide within that code suitable safeguards for defendants.

In May 2010, the Grand Chamber of the European Court heard argument in Al-Khawaja and Tahery v U.K.   This concerned two factually distinct cases but both raised the same challenge to the 2003 Act since both had been convicted either solely or mainly on hearsay evidence admitted under the 2003 Act.   In January 2009, the European Court 4th section gave a judgment deciding that neither had received a fair trial as guaranteed by Article 6 - see the judgment here.  The U.K. requested that the case be reconsidered by the Grand Chamber and judgment is expected in the near future.

A further case raising this issue is R v Horncastle.  In 2009 the case came before a five judge Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) which decided that the 2003 Act was compatible with Article 6 - see R v Horncastle, Blackmore and others [2009] EWCA Crim 964.  An appeal was heard

Monday, 21 February 2011

Vehicle immobilisation (clamping) ... The Protection of Freedoms Bill No. 4

The Protection of Freedoms Bill Part 3 Chapter 2 is headed "Vehicles left on Land."  There are 3 clauses -
  • Clause 54 - offence of immobilising etc. a vehicle
  • Clause 55 - Extension of powers to remove vehicles from land
  • Clause 56 - Recovery of unpaid parking charges.

Parking charges on private land is very lucrative and numerous private car parks exist such as those at shopping centres, airports etc.  Few things have angered the motorist as much as wheel clamping of vehicles on private land, the disgraceful activities of certain clampers and large release fees.  As just one example, a clamping firm operating in Haworth (West Yorkshire) became exceptionally notorious for its stance - see BBC .  In Scotland, the judges had none of this and decided that clamping (other than under statutory authority) amounted to the Scots Law crime of extortion (Black v Carmichael 1992 SCCR 709) and see here at para. 3.19.  In England and Wales it is lawful to clamp vehicles on private land provided that adequate warning is given (e.g. by notices) and provided that the release charge is reasonable (Arthur v Anker 1992 and Vine v London Borough of Waltham Forest [2000] EWCA Civ 106).

As recently as September 2010 there was this exchange in Parliament:


Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North, Labour)
This very week, private wheel-clampers are in operation in my constituency, extorting vast sums of money from my constituents. May I urge the Minister to go further and abolish private wheel-clamping altogether, and hand it over only to local authorities and police forces so that it can be publicly accountable?

Lynne Featherstone (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Equalities Office; Hornsey and Wood Green, Liberal Democrat)
I am pleased to be able to inform the Hon. Gentleman that wheel-clamping is being abolished altogether on private land. Local authorities will still carry out wheel-clamping on public land.

It is reasonable to ask whether the Protection of Freedoms Bill will achieve this but, first, it is worth a brief look back at what has already been done in relation to clamping and clampers.

The practice of clamping grew considerably during the 1990s.  By 1998 there was overwhelming support for regulation of clamping.  The Private Security Industry Act 2001 created the Security Industry Authority (SIA) which administers

Sunday, 20 February 2011

An Englishman's Home is His Castle but ..... Protection of Freedoms Bill No. 3

The tide keeps 'em out !
In Semayne’s case (1604) 5 Co Rep at 91b – it was stated that “The house of everyone is to him as his castle and fortress.” In 1767, William Pitt stated that - “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown.”   Every entry by the Police or officials to someone's property (whether home or business) must be carried out in accordance with the law but there are hundreds of statutory powers of entry.  In relation to warrants to enter and search premises, constables have to comply with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 ss.15 and 16 and, if they do not, the entry or search would be unlawful.

The Protection of Freedoms Bill - Part 3 - is headed "Protection of property from disproportionate enforcement action."  The key word there is "disproportionate."  This Bill will not make property immune from enforcement action but is aimed at putting in place better regulation of powers of entry as well as abolishing some obsolete powers - for instance, a power under the Distribution of German Property (No.1) Order 1950 will be abolished.  [It allows the Police to enter with a warrant to search for and seize German enemy property]!

In June 2006, Henry Porter writing in the Guardian had this to say – How the Englishman’s home ceased to be his castle . Porter began by reminding us of the 250 officers used in a raid on the home of two Muslim brothers in Forest Gate, London.  He also drew attention to the massive extension of powers of entry and search which Parliament has placed on the statute book and he highlighted the very subtle ways in which this has been done so as to avoid any real debate in Parliament.   There have been other high profile examples of property searches.
 
In 2008 the home of football manager Harry Redknapp was searched at 6am with the Press in attendance.   The Police acted under the authority of a warrant which turned out to be unlawful – see Redknapp v City of London Police .   Mr Redknapp was subsequently awarded £1000 in damages.  Then there was the arrest in 2009 of  Mr Damian Green MP in connection with a Police investigation into leaks from within the Home Office.  His office was searched.   The political row which ensued proved embarrassing for the Metropolitan Police and the Home Secretary of the day (Jacqui Smith MP).

Part 3 of the Bill  (Chapter 1) enables the "appropriate national authority" to repeal any power of entry which it considers to be "unnecessary or inappropriate"  (Clause 39).  Also, Schedule 2 will

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Rights also entail responsibilities ...

It is one thing to have a "right" such as Freedom of Expression but that does not mean that it can be exercised irresponsibly.  This point is well made by the High Court's decision in Abdul and others v D.P.P. [2011] EWHC 247 (Admin). - Gross LJ and Davis J.

In March 2009 there was a march in Luton to welcome home soldiers of the Royal Anglian Regiment who had been serving in Afghanistan.   Muslim protesters were present.  They wished to protest about British involvement in that country.  Subsequently, seven of them were charged under the Public Order Act 1986 s.5. - (threatening, abusive, insulting words etc) - which is triable only in the Magistrates' Courts.   Five men were convicted and their convictions were challenged in the High Court on an "appeal by way of case stated."  Their appeals were dismissed.

One of the arguments on appeal was that the prosecutions were an abuse of process.  This was rejected.  The Police had facilitated their protest but had certainly not given them a blank cheque to shout abusive words such as "British soldiers murderers" or "Baby killers" or "Rapists all of you."  The Police had not given any assurances that the men would not be prosecuted.  Clearly, the concern of the Police was to manage what had potential to become a serious public order situation between those wishing to recognise the service of the soldiers and those seeking to protest.  The European Convention on Human Rights Article 10 allowed freedom of expression but here the prosecutions were justified and the defendants had overstepped the mark.  The exercise of freedom of expression carries with it duties and responsibilities and this is recognised in Article 10 which permits restrictions on the right in order to (inter alia) prevent disorder or crime.

Interestingly, it appear that it took several weeks before any of these men were charged.   This was expalined by the need to view a considerable amount of video footage taken by the Police at the time.  Further, the case took 6 days in the Magistrates' Court before a District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) sitting alone.  The High Court commented that it was not obvious

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The government is disappointed and appalled by this ruling ....

In 2010, the Supreme Court decided R (F) and Thompson v Home Secretary [2010] UKSC 17.   The court considered the cases of two distinct offenders though the same legal issue arose in relation to both.  F - aged 11 at the time he offended (see note) - committed sexual offences (including two counts of rape) on a 6 year old boy.  In 2005 he was sentenced to 30 months detention.  Thompson was born in 1951 and, in 1996, was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for indecent assault on his own daughter.  Conviction for these very serious offences triggered the Sexual Offences Act 2003 section 82 under which an indefinite notification period applies if the sentence is 30 months or more.  This is commonly referred to as the Sex Offenders Register.  The Divisional Court (Latham LJ, Underhill and Flaux JJ) and the Court of Appeal (Dyson, Maurice Kay and Hooper LJJ) had held that the absence of any possibility of reviewing what is a life long notification requirement was

Protection of Freedoms Bill - No. 2 - Public Reading Stage

The government has set up a PUBLIC READING STAGE for the Protection of Freedoms Bill.  It is possible for anyone to comment about every clause of the Bill.  This is a very welcome development.

In the Political Reform section of the Coalition’s Programme for Government it was said that there would be a new "public reading stage" for bills to give the public an opportunity to comment on proposed legislation online.
The normal parliamentary convention is that there should be at least two weekends between the initial publication of the Bill and the first proper debate in Parliament. As such, the deadline for comments is 7th March 2011.  Comments submitted to the website are subject to a Moderation Policy (explained on  the website).

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Where are the Human Rights Lawyers when you want them ...?

Are we now a thoroughly uncaring country?  One could be forgiven for thinking so given reports by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman - Ann Abraham .  The reports have been laid before Parliament and concern the Ombudsman's investigation into cases involving NHS Trusts and two General Practitioners.  Abraham states:-

"Although each investigation was conducted independently, I have collated this report because of the common experiences of the patients concerned and the stark contrast between the reality of the care they received and the principles and values of the NHS.

Sadly, of the ten people featured in this report, nine died during the events described here, or soon afterwards. In accordance with the legislation, my investigations were conducted in private and their identities have not been revealed.

I encourage Members of both Houses to read the stories of my investigations included in this report. I would ask that you then pause and reflect on my findings: that the reasonable expectation that an older person or their family may have of dignified, pain-free end of life care, in clean surroundings in hospital, is not being fulfilled. Instead, these accounts present a picture of NHS provision that is failing to respond to the needs of older people with care and compassion and to provide even the most basic standards of care."  [My emphasis].

The Times covered this appalling story today.  Unfortunately, I am not able to provide links due to their paywall policy.  However, they reported that

Monday, 14 February 2011

A look at the Protection of Freedoms Bill - No.1





The government has put before Parliament the much heralded Protection of Freedoms Bill - see The Bill and Explanatory Notes.


The Bill has emerged as a result of the Coalition Agreement .  The "short title" of the Bill perhaps owes much to political rhetoric but the Bill seeks to amend a number of aspects of the law which have proved to be controversial.  The Bill is in 7 Parts (see below).  This post takes a look at Parts 1 and 7 of the Bill.

Parts of the Bill:
  1.  Destruction, Detention and Use of Fingerprints etc.
  2.  Regulation of Surveillance
  3. Protection of Property from disproportionate enforcement action
  4. Counter-Terrorism powers
  5. Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups, Criminal Records etc
  6. Freedom of Information and Data Protection
  7. Miscellaneous and General
Part 7

Part 7 contains two relatively straightforward provisions.  Clause 99 simply repeals the Criminal Justice Act 2003 section 43 which provides for non-jury trial in certain serious fraud offences.  The idea of abolishing jury trial for such cases goes back to the Fraud Trials Committee Report of 1986 (the "Roskill Report") which recommended a Fraud Trials Tribunal.  Section 43 of the 2003 Act was never implemented and its passing will not be mourned by those who favour jury trial.  Nevertheless, the complexities and length of certain of those trials will continue to be a problem for most jurors.  Clause 100 removes restrictions on the times during which marriages and civil partnerships may take place.  This will be a welcome amendment to the law.  It appears that government is planning to alter the law to permit same-sex marriage - see Telegraph 12th February.  Those proposals are likely to be very controversial given that they cut across the long-standing legal notion and belief of many religions that marriage is the union of a man and woman.  However, those proposals are awaited and are not part of this Bill.

Part 1

Part 1 deals with the thorny subject of destruction, retention and use of fingerprints, footwear impressions  and DNA samples/profiles taken

Friday, 11 February 2011

Protection of Freedoms Bill Published ... Prisoner Votes (again) - SOUND OFF FOR JUSTICE ... former MP sentenced for fraud

Protection of Freedom Bill

The government has put before Parliament the much heralded Protection of Freedoms Bill - see The Bill and Explanatory Notes.  Key proposals relate to retention of evidential material such as DNA profiles; a Code of Practice relating to Surveillance Cameras and a Surveillance Camera Commissioner; a requirement to obtain judicial approval before certain powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers 2000 may be exercised; amendment to terrorism law including a 14 days detention period without charge etc.  It seems unlikely that his Bill will go as far as many would have hoped.  The detail needs to be studied.

For an initial view see "MAGNA CARTA UNFAZED" - by Dr Cian Murphy - Lecturer in law at King's College, London.

Prisoners and Voting 

Just 39% of MPs voted on Thursday 10th February in the debate about prisoners voting.  The outcome was against permitting prisoners a vote - (234 to 22).  The government's next moves are therefore awaited with interest since the government is not actually bound by the Commons vote - (which was a "free" vote).  It has to be acknowledged that this stance finds favour with much (probably a majority) of the population.  That the European Court of Human Rights has any role in this matter is because of Protocol 1 Article 3 to the Convention:

"The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature."

Taken at face value this does

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

True Stories: Britain's Supreme Court

A further excellent television programme about the Supreme Court of the U.K. may be viewed - "Channel 4: Britain's Supreme Court."  It lasts for 72 minutes but, be warned, that at the outset and around the halfway point there are a few adverts!  Just sit through the ones in the middle!  The programme looks at the court's first year - 2009 to 2010.  At the outset the judges were sworn - "to do right to all manner of persons according to the laws and usages of this Realm" - an oath taken by all who sit in judgment in our courts from the lowest magistrate to the highest judge.

There are many fascinating glimpses of not just the formality of the legal proceedings but also of the personalities involved.  The optimistic Mrs Purdy is seen as judgment is given in her favour in the very last sitting of the House of Lords.  The "Law Lords" ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions to issue specific guidance as to prosecutions for the offence of assisting suicide.  Next, Tim Owen QC is shown addressing the Supreme Court in its very first case concerning the assets of alleged terrorists.  The Supreme Court eventually came down against the government and required the executive to secure its powers from Parliament.

Next the Official Opening of the court by

Monday, 7 February 2011

Think Tank calls for UK withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights

In his 1976 Dimbleby Lecture, Lord Hailsham warned of the elective dictatorship.  The one thing which, in modern times, prevents the United Kingdom becoming such a dictatorship is the European Convention on Human Rights.  This enables the citizen to challenge even an Act of Parliament on the basis that it infringes the European Convention which, after all, the U.K. has solemnly agreed in international law to adhere to.  Indeed, the U.K. was one of the very first signatories to the Convention and the U.K. has also adopted most of the Protocols subsequently agreed between Member States of the Council of Europe.  A challenge to an Act of Parliament does not mean that the courts can say that the Act is void or "unconstitutional."   Since the Human Rights Act 1998, the most the courts can do is make a declaration of incompatibility and it is then for Parliament to deal with the incompatibility by, for example, amending the legislation.  In this way the so-called "Supremacy of Parliament" is upheld.

Just what does that "supremacy of parliament" entail?  It means that Parliament may enact any law it wishes.  According to the theory there is no mortal power which can prevent Parliament doing just what it likes.  Here is a short list of things it has done in recent times.  The list is based on the book "Just Law - The Changing Face of Justice - and why it matters to us all" by Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws QC

  • Introduced internment without trial for non-citizens suspected of terrorist links - (later replaced by control orders);
  • repeatedly attempted to remove trial by jury - (attempts have usually failed only thanks to the House of Lords);
  • introduced retrial of those acquitted of certain serious offences, thus eroding the double jeopardy principle;
  • attacked the independence of the judiciary;
  • placed serious limits on access to justice through cuts to legal aid - (with even more to come);
  • streamlined extradition processes so that British citizens can be removed without insufficient protections.
The list is just a few of the things done by various elected Parliaments over recent times.  The list could be extended several times over.  The ability to use the European Convention on Human Rights has helped to moderate this tide of authoritarianism which has emanated from within British governments irrespective of political persuasion.

It is disturbing that the "Policy Exchange" think tank is urging Ministers to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights - see BRINGING RIGHTS HOME

The document concludes that

Saturday, 5 February 2011

The Red White and Blue: Appeals and References

Update:  "Pub landlady's copyright conviction quashed in TV football ruling" - Solicitor's Journal February 2012.

---

The Red White and Blue is in Portsmouth ( see here ).  Hundreds of such pubs are closing each year and many are sorely in need of trade.  The reasons for such closures need not concern us here.  Such pubs are places where people are able to congregate, "put the world to rights", perhaps have a meal or bar snack and perhaps view a Premiership Football Match on the pub's large screen or, possibly, in 3D.  To offer this facility will cost the pub a lot of money - (perhaps £1000 or more per month).  It is hardly surprising therefore that some pubs have sought cheaper ways of screening matches.  Karen Murphy is landlady of the Red White and Blue and, in 2006, she came up with the idea of using a Greek decoder as opposed to a decoder issued for use in the U.K.  In Portsmouth Magistrates' Court, she was convicted of offences under the Copyright, Design  and Patents Act 1988 s.297(1).

"A person who dishonestly receives a programme included in a broadcasting . . . service provided from a place in the United Kingdom with intent to avoid payment of any charge applicable to the reception of the programme commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale."

The Football Association Premier League Ltd (the FAPL) is the marketing organisation for the Premiership.  FAPL grants licensees the

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Forensic science ... Breaking the Cycle ... Prisoner voting ... Some important decided cases

On 27th January 2011 the government announced in Parliament that there is to be a review of Forensic Science Research and Development - see Home Office   The review is to consider the current and likely future status of research and development relevant to forensic services for the Criminal Justice System within England and Wales.  Could it just be the case that it has now dawned on Ministers that their decision to axe the Forensic Science Service - (see Law and Lawyers 28th December 2010) - might adversely affect future development in this field?


Mr Crispin Blunt MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice) has made a speech to the Social Market Foundation in which he extols the virtues of "payment by results" and "outcome based commissioning" in relation to dealing with offenders.  See Ministry of Justice 25th January 2011.   This speech has to be seen in the context of the government's green paper "Breaking the cycle ...." - see Law and Lawyers 7th December 2010.   The Green Paper is something of a curate's egg: good in parts.  There are certainly proposals to be commended but there is also quite a bit which is controversial.   For example, few would disagree with the notion that prisons should be places of hard work with an emphasis on reform.  Similarly, most agree that community sentences have to be delivered very soon after the offender is sentenced and that they must also be effective with breaches dealt with robustly.

In his speech, Mr Blunt commented that punishment alone is not enough.  "We also need to make sure that we rehabilitate offenders. For the truth is, under almost any system, most offenders will eventually return to the community. If we haven’t addressed their propensity to commit crime, we are not keeping the public safe. It is only through cutting reoffending that we can reduce crime over the long-term."

It is therefore interesting that the government seems to be squaring up

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Child Protection: The Munro (Interim) Report

In June 2010, Professor Eileen Munro was asked by the Secretary of State for Education (Michael Gove MP) to conduct a review of Child Protection arrangements.  To date, Professor Munro has produced two reports:

The Munro Review of Child Protection: Part One, A system's analysis - (here)

The Munro Review of Child Protection: Interim Report, The Child's Journey - (here)

Further information may be seen via the Department for Education website - (here) 

A final report is expected by April 2011.

In the preface to her latest report, Professor Munro comments that she is mindful of financial restraints but says that this review of child protection has been fortunate in being the first not to have been initiated in response to a particular tragedy.  Her final report in April "will not seek a series of superficial quick fixes – in a system as complex as the child protection system, there are no quick fixes to be had. There are, however, barriers to good practice which can be removed and incentives to better practice which can be put in place. I hope that the result will be a recalibration of the whole system around the immediate needs of the individual children and families that it seeks to serve."

Regrettably, the fact remains that the present financial climate is likely to be productive of more social misery bringing with it the possibility of more "at risk" children.  This will combine with reductions in Local Authority frontline services.

Media:
Children and Young People Now - Ofsted should no longer evaluate serious case reviews, finds Munro Report - 1st February 2011.

Other posts:
Government announces review of child protection arrangements - 10th June 2010
Khyra Ishaq - 26th February 2010
Khyra Ishaq - 28th July 2010