UK Courtrooms Will Go Completely Digital By 2016

By 2016 nobody in the UK courtrooms will use papers anymore as this is considered outdated. The plan of the government is to make everything digital. The Legal Stop favours the idea and provides legal documents online, which you can simply download to your computer and use in digital format.

Courts will have their own secure wi-fi networks so that they may easily find any document they need. Evidence and documents used during trials will be displayed on digital monitors.

Police officers will also stop bringing notebooks with them as they will get mobile devices.

The amount the government will spend on these changes is £160 million.

The first court which has now been trying this new concept is the Birmingham Magistrates Court. From March until now it has dealt with 80 cases.

The changes should soon start functioning throughout whole England and Wales. The expected results are that this would improve the work of different courts.

Justice minister Damien Green has to announce the plans today in a speech at the Policy Exchange.

He started his speech mentioning that each year courts use 160 million sheets of paper.

“Stacked up this would be the same as 15 Mount Snowdons – literally mountains of paper. If we are to win in the global race this must change,” said Mr Green. “It is time we move the court system into the 21st Century.”

In his opinion courts would function in a qualitative way only when they got rid of the old system and became more modern.

On the other hand, many lawyers are uneasy with this new system saying that if an eventual system crash happens they would not lose a single file but all the documents of the court may disappear.


Former Undercover Police Officer Reveals Attempts To Smear Stephen Lawrence Campaign

The Prime Minister David Cameron insisted on an investigation considering the rumors that police attempted to discredit the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, which is against many laws and HR policies.

A former undercover police officer called Peter Francis gave interviews for the Guardian and Channel 4 claiming he was told he had to infiltrate the campaign to get justice for Stephen Lawrence in order to gather “any intelligence that could have smeared the campaign”.

He added he was a part of the police plan aiming to turn public’s view against the campaign.

“I wasn’t successful, no SDS officer was successful, in finding anything really concrete. It was really just a bit of hearsay, tittle-tattle.”

What else Francis gave away was that police monitored the Lawrence family home so that it had concrete information about how the campaign would proceed.

In his words Met police had been “scared” of the campaign.

The mother of Stephen shared that all the members of her family had thought there was something wrong in the intentions of the police .

“Somebody sitting somewhere, calculating what, you know, what they’d be doing to look at and infiltrate our family. It’s like we’re treated as if to say we’re not human beings.”

A spokesman for No 10 announced that the Prime Minister was “deeply concerned” of these rumors and insisted on an immediate investigation.

Jack Straw, the former secretary said this matter had to be referred to the IPCC so that it could become evident who had ordered all this.

In October 2011 an independent investigation was launched against a separate undercover officer but there are still no results.

Law Society Calls For 28 Day Limit On Police Bail

As the new figures showed that there is a possibility that some suspects would have to wait much longer for a decision on their case the Law Society stated that there had to be limitation of about 28 days on police bail. Usually while the police are investigating a crime there are arrested people who are later bailed. The number of people on bail in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 57,000, according to the legal documents reviewed.

As a preventive measure such people have many restrictions on their movement and finances.

A recent research showed that the decision on the cases of 3,172 of them have not been announced for over six months.

There is even a case in which a man, who was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of fraud, was on bail for three and a half years.

Most people on bail admit that they are not able to live a normal life with all the limitations they have to bear in mind.

Nowadays, police have the power to keep suspects on bail for as long as they wish.

Richard Atkinson, who chairs the organisation’s criminal law committee, commented: “I would call for a 28-day statutory maximum period for police bail. But it could be extended by applying to a magistrate. There, police would have to explain what stage they were at in their investigation and why a further 28-day extension of bail was necessary.”

He received a respond from the Home Office claiming that in their opinion police bails were mixture of protecting the rights of individuals and at the same time allowing police to carry out their criminal investigations.


MPs Want Changes in Laws Governing Undercover Police Officers

After a report criticizing the behaviour of officers who had infiltrated protest groups over the last 40 years, came to light, MPs asked for tighter regulation of undercover officers.

According to the Commons Home Affairs Committee these undercover officers ruined the lives of women who had decided to live with them and have relationships with them. Another things MPs mentioned was the fact that the usage of the names of dead children to forge fake identities was a disrespectful practice.

It was announced that five women and one man are taking legal action against the Metropolitan Police because of their relationships with undercover officers. The committee also said that one undercover officer have most probably fathered a child with an activist before disappearing.

“It is unacceptable that a child should be brought into the world as a result of such a relationship and this must never be allowed to happen again,” the committee said.

In the words of the MPs, all families whose children’s names and identities were used had to receive full explanations and apologies.

“It is easy to see how officers infiltrating serious, organized criminal and terrorist gangs using the identities of real people could pose a significant risk to the living relatives of those people,” they said.

The report claims that the laws governing undercover police work need serious review.

The Association of Police Officers (Acpo) also supported the calls for a review of laws.

Head of crime, Merseyside Chief Constable Jon Murphy, said: “Used correctly, the tactic is lawful, ethical, necessary and proportionate. But it is also one of the most challenging areas of operational policing and can have considerable impact on public confidence.”

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Tagging offenders in UK ten times more expensive than in the US

The tagging of offenders is not used effectively and that is why a think tank has called for changes to be made as soon as possible. According to e recent report, the current use of tagging offenders is done in an ineffective way. It was announced that there will be changes in the electronic tagging systems which are said to save the UK government millions of pounds each year.

The conservative policy institute Policy Exchange has announced in a recent report that the current tagging of offenders is ineffective and thus costs too much for the government. The conservative policy institutes also states that £70m pounds could be saved only if the electronic monitoring of offenders across the UK is done by police or probation officers.  However, this is currently a responsibility of private firms. Such private firms include G4S and Serco. These companies not only provide but also administer the technology that is being used for tagging offenders. Nonetheless, Policy Exchange believes that these companies must provide support to the police and probation departments by supplying the devices. It will be then the job of the police and probation department to fir the technology devices to the offenders themselves. Additionally, the report made by the conservative policy institute also revealed that tagging a single offender in both England and Wales costs more than ten times than tagging one in the United States.

The claim that tagging offenders is used in an ineffective way has also been supported by the Future of Corrections report. According to this report, even though that the current electronic system for tagging offenders has a lot of potential; it is not being used effectively in terms of reducing crime. The Future of Corrections report suggests that it is the policemen who should advise both courts and prison officials on which offenders need to be tagged. The author of the report, Rory Geoghegan, stated that if the use of tagging continues to be extended without taking into consideration the current reforms, will eventually cost millions of pounds. Failing to recognize the importance of the reforms does not only concern money being wasted, but it also concerns the fact that the opportunity for cutting crime will be eventually missed.

Conversely, Richard Morris, group managing director of G4S Care and Justice Services, argued that these findings are not accurate. He stated that the tags generally provide “a robust alternative to expensive prison custody”. That is why; “tens of millions of pounds each year” are actually saved to taxpayers. He also added that over the years, the private firms have worked closely with the Ministry of Justice assuring that changes are made for the better execution of tagging offenders electronically. The firms have introduced innovative ideas and changes to the original services and this has resulted in good, even improved, value for money.

The UK government has stated that compared with current reforms and agreements, new contracts for electronic monitoring will bring even more value for money next April.

Rape Complaints Often Ignored by the Police

One in nine rape complaints by victims have been simply ignored by the UK police, Home Office figures reveal.

Another fact revealed by the figures is that the police also ignored some other crimes. For example two percent of reported burglaries, five percent of robberies, three percent of drugs complaints and six percent of sexual assaults.

According to a study by the Criminal Justice Joint Inspection team, it is possible that due to pressure to reduce the number of recorded cases, the police is “forced” to ignore some incidents as “no crime” without proper examination.

These figures may raise fears that rape victims might found themselves defenseless, while the rapists might escape justice for the crimes committed by them. This could lead to undermining confidence in the justice system and causing less victims of sexual assault to come forward.

The fact that 90% of sex attacks are still going unreported and the number of rapes reported to the police from April fell with 14% compare to the same period last year However, Amanda Bancroft, writing for the Guardian earlier this year, pointed out that the conviction rate for rape is slightly above the average for all crimes, suggesting that media misreporting could cause victims to be reluctant to come forward.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said in a report back in July that more than 300,000 women are sexually assaulted each year in Britain but warned only 91,000 of the culprits are prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and almost 67,000 are convicted.

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