Sexualisation and violence

Sunday 28 February 2010 at 8:48 am | In News | Post Comment
Brooke Shields, controversy surrounded her exploitation at 14.
An independent review into the sexualisation of young people, conducted by psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos, was published by the Home Office on 26 February 2010. Commissioned by the Home Office, the review looks at how sexualised images and messages may be affecting the development of children and young people and influencing cultural norms. It also examines the evidence for a link between sexualisation and violence. Key recommendations include:

  • the government to launch an online ‘one-stop-shop’ to allow the public to voice their concerns regarding irresponsible marketing which sexualises children, with an onus on regulatory authorities to take action. The website could help inform future government policy by giving parents a forum to raise issues of concern regarding the sexualisation of young people;
  • the government should support the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) to take steps to extend the existing regulatory standards to include commercial websites;
  • broadcasters are required to ensure that music videos featuring sexual posing or sexually suggestive lyrics are broadcast only after the ‘watershed';
  • the government to support the NSPCC in its work with manufacturers and retailers to encourage corporate responsibility with regard to sexualised merchandise. Guidelines should be issued for retailers following consultation with major clothing retailers and parents’ groups; and
  • games consoles should be sold with parental controls already switched on. Purchasers can choose to ‘unlock’ the console if they wish to allow access to adult and online content.

Report on Home Office website here

Newspaper boy was not employee, and so could not claim unfair dismissal

Saturday 27 February 2010 at 5:53 am | In News | Post Comment
Newspaper boy Myles Bebbington
The Employment Appeal Tribunal held this week (in Bebbington v Palmer t/a Sturry News Employment Appeal Tribunal – 23/02/2010) that a 15-year-old newspaper boy, working a paper round, was not an employee.

Myles Bebbington was a schoolboy aged 14 when he started doing a paper round for his local newsagent, in Sturry, Canterbury as a “casual workers”. Pay was for work done (usually about 12 deliveries). There was no sick pay and there were no agreed holidays.

When the boys were asked to be at the shop at 6.30am ready to start their deliveries at 7.00am the boy stopped his round and claimed unfair dismissal.

The Employment Tribunal dismissed the claims on the basis of its finding that Mr Bebbington was not an employee of Sturry News. Mr Bebbington appealed to the EAT – but lost.

129 QUEEN’S COUNSEL APPOINTED IN 2009-10 COMPETITION

Friday 26 February 2010 at 7:44 am | In News | Post Comment
Queen's Counsel Graham Reeds QC
The fourth round of appointments as Queen’s Counsel was announced today. These appointments are made following consideration by the independent Selection Panel, which recommends who should receive this highly sought-after award. All those appointed have demonstrated excellence in advocacy in the higher courts.

Professor Dame Joan Higgins, Chair of the QC Selection Panel, said today:

I have great pleasure at the announcement of these 129 names. I warmly congratulate all those whose appointment has been announced today. It is encouraging to see such a wide variety of advocates among the new appointments.

The Selection Panel believes that the quality of applications this year was higher than ever. Nevertheless, inevitably, some applicants have had to be disappointed. The standard for appointment is very high. Even if an advocate has not been appointed on this occasion it does not mean that he or she is not a valued and effective practitioner.

The Selection Panel would also like to express its warm appreciation to the 1700 assessors who provided evidence on behalf of one or more applicants and without whom the process could not have worked effectively. All the Panel’s decisions have been based solely on the evidence provided by these assessors and by the applicants themselves.

I am encouraged that the proportion of successful applicants from an ethnic minority background broadly matches that for white applicants. I am also pleased that the number of successful women applicants remains high.

It is disappointing that we have not been able to recommend more solicitors or employed advocates, after the higher number of appointments last year. But all applicants are assessed against a common competency framework and a common standard of excellence. There are no quotas, and we treat all applications in the same way. I hope that there will be further appointments in future years.

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Rt. Hon. Jack Straw MP, announced today the names of 129 Queen’s Counsel from 275 applicants.

The 129 (47% of all applicants) appointed this year included:

· 20 women applicants (43% of the 46 who applied). In the previous competition 16 women (55% of 29) were appointed.
· 17 applicants who declared an ethnic origin other than white (49% of the 35 who applied, 13% of all applicants), a higher proportion than in the previous competition when 4 applicants (27%) were appointed.
· 1 solicitor advocate (10% of the 10 who applied). In 2009 4 applications were received of whom 3 (75%) were appointed.
· 6 applicants aged 55 or over (24% of this age group) as at the closing date for applications(compared to 5 applicants (20%) in 2009)

The list will be appear here after 9am

Thursday 25 February 2010 at 2:42 am | In News | Post Comment
Judges - more diversity
The report by the Advisory Panel on Judicial Diversity, which ministers have accepted, calls for “positive action” to be used where two candidates are seen to have equal abilities.

It would mean women or members of minority groups being chosen over other candidates at the very end of the selection process.
The panel chairman, Baroness Neuberger, said she hoped the proposals would lead to the judiciary accurately reflecting society within ten years.

Guardian report here.

New Code for Crown Prosecutors

Wednesday 24 February 2010 at 8:02 am | In News | Post Comment
CPS - New Code
Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions has issued a clarified and updated edition of  The Code for Crown Prosecutors.

Changes include:

  • A clearer explanation of the public interest factors tending in favour of and against prosecution;
  • A clearer explanation of how the public interest stage of the Full Code Test is applied;
  • Prosecutors having a discretion to stop a prosecution in the public interest, in exceptional circumstances, before all of the evidence is available;
  • A fuller section explaining the use of out-of-court disposals for both adults and youths;
  • Prosecutors being able to conduct pre-trial witness interviews when it is needed to assess the reliability of a witness’ evidence or better understand complex evidence.

The Code applies to all CPS prosecutors and police officers when making charging decisions.

Code available here

School spies on pupil webcams?

Saturday 20 February 2010 at 12:00 am | In News | Post Comment
Laptops used to monitor students?
In America, on Tuesday, a federal lawsuit was filed against the Lower Merion School District in Ardmore, Pa. accusing school officials of spying on students at Harriton High School through the webcams on school-issued Macbooks.

By Wednesday, the story had exploded across the Web and been picked up by local and national media outlets.

According to an Associate Press report published by CBS News:

Lower Merion School District officials can activate the webcams without students’ knowledge or permission, the suit said. Plaintiffs Michael and Holly Robbins suspect the cameras captured students and family members as they undressed and in other embarrassing situations, according to the suit.

Non jury trial defendant escapes

Friday 19 February 2010 at 9:10 am | In News | Post Comment
Peter Blake accused of armed robbery, is dangerous
Peter Blake, 57 a suspected armed robber walked out of the High Court in London yesterday, in the midst of his historic criminal trial – without a jury – for a 75m robbery in 2004 at a warehouse near Heathrow. This is the fourth trial, which has cost £20m, so far.

Blake (and three co-defendants) was being tried without a jury after the prosecution alleged the jury in the previous Old Bailey trial had been nobbled.

Detective Superintendent Stuart Cundy, of the Flying Squad, said, “Peter Blake is considered as dangerous and we would ask members of the public not to approach Peter Blake, but if they do see him to call 999 immediately,”

Equality watchdog faces multiple sexism accusations

Wednesday 17 February 2010 at 9:14 am | In News | Post Comment
Unhappy quango
The Guardian – 12/02/2010

According to employment tribunal figures, the Commission for Equality and Human Rights has been the subject of 15 claims, in which it has been accused of ­sexism, racism and ­discriminating against pregnant women.

Although most of the claims were withdrawn or settled out of court.

Stewart Jackson, shadow minister for communities, said “This is yet more evidence of chaos and ­confusion in this unhappy Whitehall quango.”

Are Juries Fair?

Wednesday 17 February 2010 at 8:59 am | In News | Post Comment
12 Angry Men a film almost entirely in the jury room staring Henry Fonda
A report by Professor Cheryl Thomas is a major contribution to the debate on the way juries operate.  Cheryl Thomas has debunked many myths and produced a convincing wide ranging and important paper.  The report examines whether all-white juries discriminate against black and minority ethnic defendants, and finds they do not.

The report also asks whether juries rarely convict on certain offences or at certain courts and whether jurors understand legal directions, are aware of media coverage or look for information on the internet about cases.

  • The study found little evidence of jury unfairness.
  • The study found little evidence that juries are not fair. However, it identifies several areas where the criminal justice system should better assist jurors in performing this vital role.
  • The study also demonstrates that section 8 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 does not prevent comprehensive research about how juries reach their verdicts and that research from other jurisdictions should not be relied upon to understand juries in this country.

The study examined decision-making at the jury verdict level:

  • The key finding was that verdicts of all-White juries did not discriminate against BME defendants. Jury verdicts at both courts showed no tendency for all-White juries to convict a Black or Asian defendant more than a White defendant.
  • All-White juries at Winchester had almost identical verdicts for White and BME defendants, but all-White juries at Nottingham had particular difficulty reaching a verdict involving a BME defendant or BME victim.

This suggests that local population dynamics may play a role in jury decision-making.

  • BME defendants are consistently more likely than White defendants to plead not guilty to charges in all of the 12 general offence categories used in this study except one (falsification, forgery and counterfeiting)
  • BME defendants are three and half times more likely to face a jury verdict in the Crown Court relative to their representation in the general population.

However, jury verdicts showed only small differences based on defendant ethnicity. White and Asian defendants both had a 63% jury conviction rate; Black defendants had a 67% jury conviction rate.
Most charges brought against defendants in the Crown Court are not decided by a jury:

  • Only 12% of all charges are decided by jury deliberation.
  • 59% of all charges result in a guilty plea by a defendant.

The report is here

Tuesday 16 February 2010 at 7:08 am | In News | Post Comment
Facebook, used by police and justice staff
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has disciplined more than 40 staff for internet and email offences – including sacking four and issuing final warnings to three others. The Metropolitan Police (MPS0 has dealt with 28 members of staff for similar breaches.

A Freedom of Information investigation by Lewis PR has revealed that workers were disciplined for misbehaving on websites like Facebook and Twitter and general internet and email offences.

Five civilian staff were also disciplined by the police force for committing the same offence in the past 18 months, with one of them being dismissed.

The usage policy at both the MoJ and the MPS prohibited staff from accessing social networking websites for personal reasons in working hours.

Other staff were subject to disciplinary action for breaches of IT security policy, for example misuse of email, internet browsing and incorrect use of passwords and login details.

“MoJ policy is that staff cannot access social networking sites for personal reasons.”

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