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Legal Aid Agency warns advocates about keeping records

Picture of Blind Justice on teh Central Criminal Court doe Your Expert Witness storyAll criminal advocates should keep an on-going work log to ensure their special preparation and wasted preparation claims are properly supported, according to a statement by the Legal Aid Agency issued on 6 January. Keeping an accurate, running log of preparatory work is an established requirement under other payment schemes, the agency said; however, the expansion of fixed and graduated fee schemes has led some advocates to mistakenly believe that such work logs are no longer required.

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 April 2018 09:20


New criminal offence for jurors tops the list of Law Commission recommendations

Picture of Prof David Ormerod for Your Expert Witness storyOn 9 December the Law Commission published recommendations to reform elements of the law governing contempt of court. The Commission’s recommendations included introducing a new statutory offence for jurors who intentionally seek information beyond the evidence presented in court. It follows recent high-profile reports of jurors searching the internet to find out information about defendants and cases.

The recommendation is that jurors who search for information beyond what is presented as evidence in court should be prosecuted for a criminal offence rather than dealt with by the contempt of court procedure. Currently, the report says, jurors receive instructions from the trial judge on what they should not do. If they breach those specific instructions they are in contempt of court. But the precise limits on what they can do are set by each judge in each case. That, says the Commission, leads to inconsistency and can generate confusion. It also means that the judge is responsible for setting the boundaries of what is, in all but name, a criminal offence. The Law Commission’s recommendations mean that the limits of what jurors can do are laid down by Parliament in statute.

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 April 2018 09:21


Witnesses of crime need help to remember accurately

CCTV picture of a bank robber for Your Expert Witness storyThe memory of people who have witnessed or been victims of crime is prone to errors which law officials must take into account when proceeding with criminal cases, according to research to be presented at an event as part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s annual Festival of Social Science on 6 November.

“I was once caught up in a bank robbery and as soon as the perpetrators left a lot of people in the bank started talking about what had happened,” recounts Dr Anne Ridley from London South Bank University, an expert in the field of eyewitness memory.

“I knew that this was bad, as discussing an event after it has happened with other people who were there can corrupt your memory – making you believe that you have seen something when actually you have just been told about it.”

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 April 2018 09:21


Crime isn’t down: it’s changed, says police cybercrime lead

Picture of Theresa May for Your Expert witness storyHome Secretary Theresa May has come under attack from a senior police officer over the issue of cybercrime.

The Deputy Chief Constable of Derbyshire Peter Goodman – who is the ACPO national lead on cybercrime – said it has taken over as the “new volume crime in the UK”, ahead of burglary or theft from vehicles. He argued that, although Theresa May “revels in the fact” that crime has gone down, the rise in such offences showed that crime was not actually reducing – it is changing. If police did not improve their capability to deal with the volume end of crime, it risked losing its legitimacy, he said.

His address to the national conference of the Police Superintendents’ Association was reported in the online newsletter Police Oracle.

The report quoted him as saying: “I would pose the challenge that crime is not coming down – certainly acquisitive crime is not coming down. Crime is changing. And much of the criminality which takes place through organised crime groups, and volume crime, is no longer taking place in the real world, it is taking place in the cyber enabled space. There is a new victimology that we in the police service need to respond to.”

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 April 2018 09:21


Superintendents’ VP calls for cybercrime to be ‘normalised’

Picture of keyboard buttons from Freeimages for your expert Witness storyA senior police officer has called for the investigation of cybercrime to become routine for all police officers because the specialist units presently set up will not be able to cope with the growing instances of the new wave in criminality.

Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, Vice President of the Police Superintendents’ Association was reported in the online newsletter Police Oracle as saying that every officer had to be normalised in investigating cybercrime if the police service was to keep up with growing demand.

He said the speed of growth in cybercrime meant the service could not afford to be solely reactive or strictly specialist in its approach.

“My problem is we are creating bespoke specialisms within the police service but this needs to be normalised.

“Very quickly something happening like this will become a norm in our society; so how do we normalise our approach to these technologies in terms of investigating the crime, recording it and protecting people?”

The rate of people shopping online was also going up by around 10% year-on-year: increasing the likelihood that more fraud would be committed.

Chief Supt Thomas said: “This is not going to go away - people are changing their behaviours and how they live their lives.”

He said the service had a tendency to be behind the curve on technology and this was evident in the 80s and 90s with the increasing popularity of mobile phones. 

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 April 2018 09:21