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Crime down; detection up – but HMIC voices concerns over community policing

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show a dramatic reduction in the number of recorded crimes for the period from April 2012 to March 2013, while detection rates for the same period were the highest since the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in April 2002.

The figures show that the police recorded 3.7 million offences during the period, a decrease of 7% compared with the previous year.

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 April 2018 09:21


College of Policing issues new guidance on naming of suspects

Photo of Chief Constable Andy Trotter for your Expert witness storyThe College of Policing Professional Committee has approved updated guidance on media relationships to ensure a more consistent approach by forces in their regular dealings with the media. The updated guidance, called Relationships with the Media, will now be available to Chief Constables for implementation.

The guidance was reviewed following criticism about differing approaches to releasing information by forces and is intended to ensure a professional working relationship between police and the media. It updates police practice on ‘off-the-record’ briefings, recording contact with the media, appropriately reporting any personal relationship between a police officer and a journalist and providing information concerning arrests to the media.

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 April 2018 09:22


Queen’s Speech internet proposals get mixed reception

Picture of laptop with http for Your Expert Witness storyPlans to allow law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access the IP addresses used for communication in suspected crimes included in the Queen’s Speech on 8 May have reignited fears of a so-called “snoopers’ charter” among some civil rights groups.

In the speech, The Queen said: “In relation to the problem of matching internet protocol addresses, my Government will bring forward proposals to enable the protection of the public and the investigation of crime in cyberspace.”

The new proposals follow the withdrawal of the Communications Data Bill after opposition from the Deputy Prime Minister.

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 April 2018 09:22


Surrey Police scraps hi-tech intelligence system

Picture of Kevin Hurley for Your Expert Witness storySurrey Police has halted development of an integrated criminal information and intelligence system, known as SIREN (Surrey Integrated Reporting Enterprise Network), which has so far cost in excess of £14m. The decision was made by its newly-elected Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley (pictured) following an independent review and a report by the Chief Constable that the system no longer represented the most up-to-date solution.

The system had been in development since 2009 when the contract was awarded to an IT company.

In a statement issued on 8 April and udated on 11 April, the PCC's office said: "In November 2012, Chief Constable Lynne Owens reiterated her view to the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley that the on-going programme to replace Surrey's criminal intelligence system may no longer represent the best long-term option for the force and the public.

"The Commissioner requested an independent report and sought further operational advice from the Chief Constable to consider whether Surrey Police should continue with the Siren project, or bring it to an end and instead look to examine the costs and feasibility of switching to the systems now being implemented by a number of other forces in the region.

"The Commissioner has determined that the benefits of collaborative working with other regional forces are potentially so great that Surrey Police should withdraw from the Siren project and immediately begin to work up a fully-costed proposal for an alternative solution.

"The Commissioner believes this is in the best interests of both Surrey Police operationally and the Surrey public from a value for money perspective."

Mr Hurley said: "My decision to withdraw from the Siren project has not been taken lightly, but I believe that this course of action will ultimately be in the best interests of both Surrey Police and the Surrey public. It is right and proper that it will be fully reviewed by the Police and Crime Panel and by Grant Thornton, the Audit Commission's appointed external auditors.

"I hope you can appreciate that a full inquiry into a project of this scale is likely to take some time and that it would not be proper for me to comment further at this stage."

Deputy Chief Constable Craig Denholm said: "We welcome the decision by the Police and Crime Commissioner.

"In September 2012, Surrey Police advised the Surrey Police Authority of its concern that the programme no longer represented the best long-term option for the force and the public. The Chief Constable re-iterated this position to the PCC on his election in November 2012.

"The management of information is critical in delivering effective policing. Given operational collaboration with other forces in the region, and as the national policing environment has now changed, we must also adapt our plans or risk losing out on the wider benefits."

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Last Updated on Sunday, 29 April 2018 09:22

Criminals’ ‘frozen’ assets to be seized to pay legal costs

On 11 March the Ministry of Justice announced amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill allowing legal aid costs to be seized from the 'frozen' assets of defendants, alongside compensation for victims of those convicted and the proceeds of crime. That will make sure, the MoJ says, that the taxpayer is not left to foot the bill and will put an end to "millionaire criminals refusing to reimburse the taxpayer for the free legal advice they receive".

In a statement, the MoJ said: "Under the current system, wealthy defendants can have their assets 'frozen' – making millionaires eligible for taxpayer funded legal aid that is designed to protect the poorest and most vulnerable.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling declared: "The principles of fairness and equality are fundamental to our justice system. It's high time the legal aid system was made fairer to the taxpayer; putting an end to crime bosses getting a free ride at the taxpayers' expense."

The move was welcomed by organisations representing lawyers.

The Law Society's president, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, said: "The Law Society is delighted that our campaign to see frozen assets of wealthy suspected criminals released to pay defence costs has been successful. We welcome the ministry's amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill to implement this long overdue change."

Her sentiments were echoed by the chairman of the Bar Council, Maura McGowan QC, who commented: "The Bar Council is delighted to hear today's agreement to unfreeze wealthy defendants' assets so that they can be used to meet their legal costs. Since 2010 we have been campaigning for this move to take pressure off a legal aid system, which the government has already squeezed to breaking point.

"We urge the Ministry of Justice to use this opportunity to ensure that those most in need can have effective access to justice."

The announcement followed moves announced the previous week to enforce collection of contributions to legal aid not paid by convicted criminals in defiance of Contribution Orders. The action will include amending Contribution Orders if hidden assets come to light and pursuing criminals for the entirety of the legal aid amount if they fail to provide financial information to assess their liability.

Chris Grayling said at the time: "It is scandalous that each year innocent taxpayers pay more than £20 million towards the defence of criminals who can afford to pay for themselves. This cannot be allowed to continue. Legal aid is not free – it is taxpayers' money."

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Last Updated on Sunday, 29 April 2018 09:22