Spending on mental care can save jail costs

Friday 27 February 2009 at 7:33 am | In News | Post Comment

A trebling of the money spent on diverting people with mental health problems from prison would more than pay for itself in reduced crime, better health and lower costs to the criminal justice system, according to a study by the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.

It is more than 15 years since the government-commisioned Reed report called for a national scheme to keep out of court people with mental health problems who have committed crimes, but only one in five of such offenders are currently covered, the study said.
Report in FT here

Legal aid cuts for family cases, legal aid rises for prison inmates

Friday 20 February 2009 at 9:09 am | In News | Post Comment
It has been reported this month that to save £6.5million of legal aid the government plans to cut barristers’ fees for legally aided family disputes by up to £150 a case. The cuts would affect cases involving contact with children or where a child lives after a divorce, as well as disputes between couples over money. The total legal aid budget is £2 billion-a-year.
Times report here.

In the same month it was revealed that £19 million of public funds was spent on legal services for prison inmates last year, compared to just £1 million in 2001/02.
The Legal Services Commission, which operates legal aid, blamed rises in legal advice and assistance for inmates, such as over human rights challenges and legal support for prisoners in adjudication hearings such as disciplinary action for those caught with drugs or mobile phones.
Telegraph report here

Prosecutions in assisting suicide cases more unlikely

Friday 20 February 2009 at 8:30 am | In News | Post Comment

Debbie Purdy, 45, from Bradford, who suffers from primary progressive MS, lost her case in the
Court of purdy_debbieAppeal when the judges said the law, which makes it a criminal office punishable by up to 14 years in prison would apply in her case.

Purdy wants her husband, Omar Puente to accompany her to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland – where assisted suicide is not illegal.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge said that “Ms Purdy and Mr Puente know perfectly well that … if he were to assist her suicide, he would be contravening the criminal law …”

Lord Judge went on to say that it is not part of the court’s function to enter into the debate about the issue, it is for parliament.

The case has made it clearer that criminal sanctions are unlikely in cases such as Purdy’s, which has quickly followed the case of Daniel James, the 23-year-old, injured in a rugby accident, who ended his life at Dignitas.

Times report here.

Queen’s Counsel for 2009 announced

Thursday 19 February 2009 at 10:28 am | In News | Post Comment
104 new Queen’s Counsel have been named this morning they will formally become Silks on 30th March.

Full list here.

Prisoners demand right to be fathers

Sunday 8 February 2009 at 10:32 am | In News | Post Comment
Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights requires the state not to interfere in a private and family life.

Last year, Kirk Dickson, aged 35 a long-term prisoner wanted to have a child whilst in prison because he would be too old when released, so he took the government to court and in the European Court of Human Rights won the right to artificially inseminate his wife Lorraine. He met his wife through a pen pal scheme while she was in prison for benefits fraud; he is in prison for a minimum of 15 years for kicking a man to death.

This month, the Ministry of Justice confirmed that applications from six prisoners requesting access to artificial insemination services were pending a decision by the justice secretary, Jack Straw.

CCTV threat to freedom

Friday 6 February 2009 at 9:03 pm | In News | Post Comment
The steady expansion of the “surveillance society” risks undermining fundamental freedoms including the right to privacy, according to a House of Lords report published today.

The peers say Britain has constructed one of the most extensive and technologically advanced surveillance systems in the world in the name of combating terrorism and crime and improving administrative efficiency.

Guardian report here

After 13 years it may all be over, a tea-cake is not a biscuit

Wednesday 4 February 2009 at 9:19 pm | In News | 2 Comments
Tea cake
Tea cake
Marks and Spencer’s battle over the status of a teacake is over.

Three law lords backed a decision by the European Court of Justice and M&S should get back millions of VAT they wrongly paid. The battle centred on whether the teacake is a biscuit and therefore be subject to VAT or a cake and be exempt.

The Revenue will not challenge the ECJ ruling and today’s decision means it has thrown in the tea towel.

Any law student could have told M&S, the Inland Revenue, the ECJ or the HofL that a cake goes hard if left out, a biscuit goes soft, so why did it take the best legal minds in the world 13 years to work that out? Another clue is its name, tea “cake”.


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