Prison works – Civitas

Tuesday 31 August 2010 at 6:00 am | In News | Post Comment
Image of Wandsworth prison
"prison works"
Ex-Home Office criminologist Professor Ken Pease has contributed to the ‘prison works’ debate. On the one hand Michael Howard says ‘prison works’ but on the other hand the current Lord Chancellor, Ken Clarke says fewer criminals should be locked up.  Professor Pease’s report, Prison, Community Sentencing and Crime, has been released by the think-tank Civitas.

Professor Pease said community sentences have no evident effect on reconviction rates in their current form.
Using community sentences to replace short prison sentences simply “freed the group most likely to reoffend to do so sooner, with no evidence of a current treatment benefit from community sanctions to offset that.”

Pease said arguments for fewer short sentences failed to take into account that jailing persistent offenders gave the public a respite from crime.

Whether prison helps cut crime has been distorted by “convenient fictions” that it is expensive and less effective than community sentences.
Far from paying a higher price for custody, a greater price is paid for the failure of community sentences to reduce criminality.

And once a prison sentence has been served the deterrent effect has gone.

The report goes on to say that well-resourced and well delivered community sentences can work whereas some people in prison find it much easier than on a community sentence where they have to get up in the morning and do something useful.

Investigatory Powers Tribunal hears its first case (after 10 years)

Tuesday 10 August 2010 at 10:13 am | In News | 1 Comment
Jenny Patton and her partner Tim Joyce took Poole Borough Council to the tribunal
On 30 July 2010, for the first time in its 10 year history the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) heard a challenge at an open hearing.

It ruled that it was not a proper purpose and not necessary to use surveillance powers to spy on a Dorset couple who were thought to be living outside the catchment area for the over-subscribed Lilliput First School, which they wanted their child to attend.

The IPT further found that the surveillance breached the family’s right to privacy under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.

Section 65 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 set up the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which exists to investigate complaints about conduct by various public bodies.

Jenny Paton and partner Tim Joyce took Poole Borough Council (PBC) to the tribunal because the council had used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to spy on her family 21 times.

Almost 800 public bodies – including 474 local councils – under RIPA assumed powers to snoop through covert surveillance, phone records and private correspondence. It is argued that councils need the powers to target “serious criminals such as fly tippers, rogue traders and benefit fraudsters”.

Some on-the-spot fines to end

Tuesday 10 August 2010 at 9:34 am | In News | Post Comment
On-the-spot fines for being drunk and disorderly, shoplifting, disorder and threatening and abusive behaviour are to be discontinued because they are not working.

In a pilot scheme in parts of London police officers will use court action or “words of advice” instead of fines.

Some 45,616 fixed penalty notices were issued in England and Wales but 24,713 were not paid. This is seen as wasting police time and not acting as a punishment or deterrent.

UK courts to enforce US bankruptcy rulings

Monday 9 August 2010 at 6:57 am | In News | Post Comment
UK to enforce US bankruptcy judgments
Since 30 July 2010, bankruptcy decisions made by US courts can be enforced in England and Wales. The Court of Appeal so ruled in the case of a trust created by Eurofinance SA. Previously US bankruptcy judgments were not enforceable in the UK unless a separate UK action had been started on the same grounds.

The Court of Appeal ruling centred around British Virgin Islands-registered Eurofinance, which was owned by Adrian Roman, a British businessman.

Eurofinance created The Consumers Trust (TCT), which carried out a sales promotion scheme to US consumers who were given cashable vouchers if they bought goods in certain shops and could redeem them after three years.

Lord Justice Ward found in his ruling that only a small number of customers redeemed the vouchers because they had to undergo “a complex and obscure process involving memory and comprehension”.

Lord Justice Ward ruled that the ordinary rules for not enforcing foreign judgments did not apply to bankruptcy proceedings, however.

The removal of the requirement for duplicative actions either side of the Atlantic is an important change.

The case may be appealed.

National Minimum Wage from 1st October 2010

Wednesday 4 August 2010 at 9:42 am | In News | Post Comment
Money matters for students
See The National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 (Amendment) Regulations 2010

* the principal rate of the national minimum wage increases from £5.80 to £5.93 per hour;
* the age at which this rate becomes payable is reduced from 22 to 21;
* the rate paid to workers aged between 18 and 20 increases from £4.83 to £4.92 per hour;
* the rate to be paid to workers aged below 18, who have ceased to be of compulsory school age, increases from £3.57 to £3.64 per hour;
* apprentices who (i) are employed under a contract of apprenticeship, or who are engaged under Government arrangements in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, (as specified in the NMW Regs 1999 Reg 13(6)(b)), and (ii) are within the first 12 months of that employment or engagement or who have not attained the age of 19, will receive a national minimum wage of £2.50 per hour;
* the per day value of the accommodation amount, which is applicable where an employer provides a worker with living accommodation, increases from £4.51 to £4.61 for each day that accommodation is provided.

Although there is a separate 25p increase in the London living wage to £7.85 per hour, there is no compulsion on London employers to pay more than the national minimum wage.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has announced that the minimum salary level for trainee solicitors is to remain at the level set last year (£18,590 for those working in Central London – £19,040 recommended – and £16,650 for those working elsewhere in England and Wales – £16,940 recommended.

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