Alcohol seized from under-18s

Saturday 29 December 2007 at 6:17 pm | In News | Post Comment

Police from 21 forces across the country seized over 3,700 litres of beer, wine, cider, alcopops and spirits from youths aged under 18 during an autumn crackdown on drinking in public places. The results of the month long campaign published today by the Home Office revealed the total which is equivalent to over 6,500 pints,

Red Bull and VodkaDuring the campaign, funded by the Home Office, police also used new powers under the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 to disperse groups where alcohol related crime or disorder was suspected.

The campaign ran from 8 October to 5 November 2007 with a particular focus on the weekends, half term school holiday, Halloween and Bonfire Night. Police Officers and Community Support Officers visited public places known to be underage drinking hotspots – often turned into no-go areas during the evenings – and brought alcohol-induced anti-social behaviour to an abrupt halt by seizing alcohol and dispersing threatening groups.

You can judge for yourself whether there is a problem in Bournemouth, where over a month the police seized:
34 litres of beer
8.7 litres of cider
8.7 litres of wine
4 litres of spirits
2 bottles of alcopops
0 Fireworks
The Confiscation of Alcohol (Young Persons) Act 1997 provides police officers in uniform and designated PCSOs the power to remove alcohol from persons under 18 in a public place where alcohol is being consumed or the officer reasonably suspects consumption is about to take place.

Drink driving and duress of circumstances

Monday 24 December 2007 at 2:33 pm | In News | 1 Comment

CPS v Brown, DC, 20 December 2007. Justices had been wrong to accept a defence of duress of circumstances in relation to an offence of driving with excess alcohol. B alleged that he drove to avoid a violent confrontation following a threatening phone call. At the time B was stopped there was no evidence that the threat was continuing, nor that B reasonably believed he was being pursued. The CPS appealed. Case remitted with recommendation to convict. The court did not have to resolve the question of whether or not the defence was available at the time he got into the car, as it was not available when he was stopped.

Some fixed-penalty notices are a farce (Lord Justice Leveson)

Monday 24 December 2007 at 2:07 pm | In News | Post Comment

Lord Justice Leveson, the senior presiding judge in England and Wales, in the lecture at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, said that the use of fixed-penalty notices in some cases had become a farce.

In one case an offender had accumulated fines to a total of £960Coin for “no fewer than eight notices for theft, presumably shoplifting, and one for drunk and disorderly”. They were “all unpaid, with no real prospect of ever being able to pay a single one of them”.

In another case, an offender gave the name of a distinguished war hero and the address of the square in which the hero’s statue stood. The judge said: “Without satisfactory confirmation of identity, again a PND [penalty notice for disorder] becomes a farce.”

The rise of summary justice at the expense of formal hearings in the courts led to 51 per cent of offences being dealt with last year by a caution, on-the-spot fine or cannabis warning. This was the first time in modern criminal history that more than half of offences were dealt with by out-of-court punishments.

Whole lecture here

Times article here

Solicitor-advocates will wear wigs from January

Thursday 20 December 2007 at 9:18 am | In News | Post Comment

WigThe Lord Chief Justice will issue a practice direction this week allowing solicitor advocates to wear wigs in court from January 2008.It has long been an issue that denying them this forensic ‘right’ made them appear second-class lawyers.

Use of force when tackling criminals – proposals from Jack Straw

Thursday 20 December 2007 at 8:33 am | In News | Post Comment

BurglarThe Ministry of Justice has published measures on the use of force when tackling criminals. The statement follows up the political statement by Jack Straw at the Labour Party conference in September 2007.

The proposal is to amend the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. They are intended to give the public confidence that the law is on their side if they act reasonably in using force, including the fact that:
– they acted instinctively;
– they feared for their safety or that of others, and acted based on their perception of the threat faced and the scale of that threat;
– the level of force used was not excessive or disproportionate in the circumstances as they viewed them.

The amendments attempt to clarify the existing common law defences and the statutory provisions under the Criminal Law Act 1967. The Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill was published in June 2007.

For more information go to

Amendments will be debated in Parliament at Report Stage of the Bill on 9 January 2007. It is widely expected that the proposals will be watered down and produce little change to the existing law.

Wigs are to stay for barristers

Saturday 8 December 2007 at 10:54 am | In News | Post Comment

WigThe decision to do away with wigs is put on hold. A survey by the Bar Council, which represents 15,000 barristers found two thirds of them support the wearing of wigs in civil and family cases. They are worn in major criminal cases, so it looks like they might have been saved again.
Bar Council report 

Brevity is a new watchword

Thursday 6 December 2007 at 11:29 pm | In News | Post Comment

The post-BCCI trial working party has presented an 83 page report to the Commercial Judges and Commercial Court Users’ Committee.j0227735.jpg

The report followed the 23-month BCCI trial, which opened with an 80-day speech by the barrister Gordon Pollock QC (speaking for 4 hours each day he talked as much as an A-Level law lecturer over the two years of the course).

The report proposes that from now on opening arguments should not exceed 50 pages and two days.
But the worst news for long-winded barristers is that even the longest cases will be allocated just 13 weeks.

Hunting Act rides again

Sunday 2 December 2007 at 11:37 am | In News | Post Comment

29 November 2007
fox.gif The House of Lords Judicial Committee dismissed the case brought by the Countryside Alliance which challenged to the lawfulness of the Hunting Act.

The Countryside Alliance that brought the action claimed the Act violated the fundamental human rights of thousands of people whose livelihood and way of life. Between 6,000 and 8,000 were expected eventually to lose their jobs, and many would also lose the homes that went with the jobs. Others would lose businesses and the commercial “goodwill” attached to them.

In the ruling, Lord Bingham said the law had been drawn up and passed in line with the constitution and should not be undone by an interest group. “The democratic process is liable to be subverted if, on a question of moral and political judgment, opponents of the act achieve through the courts what they could not achieve in Parliament.”

In the leading opinion given by the senior Law Lord, Lord Bingham said, that the Hunting Act 2004 must “be taken to reflect the conscience of a majority of the nation. He also said, “ … the present case seems to me pre-eminently one in which respect should be shown to what the House of Commons decided.”
The decision was a unanimous ruling by five Law Lords.

It is the second time an appeal against the Act has been rejected. (The previous attempt failed to satisfy the Lords that the ban was illegal because the Act had been passed using the Parliament Act without the consent of the House of Lords).

The Times article here

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