The answer is sometimes, but not always.
Two years ago, Nottinghamshire Police decided to label misogyny and offences targeting women as hate-crime or hate incidents. Two local universities recently undertook a report entitled “The Misogyny Hate Crime Evaluation” report which recommends rolling out the policy nationally.
Misogyny hate-crime is defined as “incidents against women that are motivated by the attitude of men towards women and includes behaviour targeted at women by men simply because they are women.”
This definition can include behaviour that is not criminal; these are recorded as hate incidents rather than hate crime, so something such as wolf-whistling may be recorded as a hate incident.
The policy does not criminalise that behaviour, but it may result in a discussion, for example, with building site managers if their workers are behaving that way.
In Belgium, however, such behaviour can be criminal. A man has been convicted under a new law which does criminalise sexism. He was stopped driving a car for breaking the highway code and told the female police officer to do a job “adapted to women”. He was fined €3,000 for insulting the officer because of her gender.
The offence in Belgium is expressing contempt toward a person because of their sexuality or treating them as inferior due to their sexuality; if it entails a serious attack on their dignity, it is punishable by up to 12 months in prison.
In France, they are preparing to create an offence of street harassment that is “sexist and sexual outrage”. Meanwhile, in Stockholm sexist advertising has been banned while the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has attempted to ban body shaming adverts.
UK chief constables met in July and to discuss the issue and whether the policy in Nottinghamshire would be rolled out. MPs are also to vote on whether misogyny should be made a hate-crime. The developments in the UK and other countries demonstrates how the law is continually evolving. It may be that this will be an aggravating feature of an offence when sentencing or disposal is dealt with.
How can we help?
You can be assured that we stay up to date as the law changes and will be able to provide you with expert, tailored advice. If you have been accused of any crime we can assist you, if you would like advice on any aspect of your case please contact John Howey on 02073881658 or firstname.lastname@example.orgRead More
A few years ago, the National Probation Service was split into two. The existing service maintained its supervision of high-risk offenders, mainly those serving lengthy sentences or with complex rehabilitation needs. However, the remaining offenders, by far the vast majority, are supervised by companies which bid to carry out rehabilitation work, with payment mechanisms often linked to success.
These arrangements have been subject to intense scrutiny in recent months, and the findings are grim, to say the least.
This is of concern because many offenders commit crime due to underlying circumstances, which if not resolved will inevitably lead to subsequent offending. For example, drug, alcohol and mental health treatment programmes must work if the cycle of offending is to be broken.
A report this week looked at another group of offenders; those who commit offences of domestic violence or abuse.
Domestic abuse is defined as any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been, intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.
The abuse can encompass psychological, physical, sexual, financial and/or emotional harm.
Domestic abuse is the context within which an offence takes place rather than an offence.
There is no single offence of domestic abuse. Rather, a range of offences feature the behaviours exhibited as part of the pattern of domestic abuse. These include:
- physical violence
- psychological or emotional harm
- sexual violence
- ‘honour-based’ violence (for example forced marriage)6
- gang violence
- sharing or distributing intimate private videos or photographs of another person without their permission (so-called ‘revenge porn’)
- coercive and controlling behaviour.
An estimated two million people experienced domestic abuse last year.
A good proportion of people in receipt of probation services are domestic abusers, and domestic abuse constitutes a sizeable proportion of the work of Community Rehabilitation Companies.
This group has been shown to have some of the most complex needs in terms of rehabilitation, rehabilitation that is vital to protect the public and set the offender on a path that allows them to move beyond their troubled past.
Regrettably, yet another report makes grim reading, these are some of its findings:
“Overall, practitioners were not empowered to deliver a good-quality domestic abuse service. They had unmanageable workloads and many needed more training and oversight. Inexperienced probation workers had full and complex caseloads and, because of the emphasis on remote working in some CRCs, they were unable to obtain support from their colleagues. The lack of knowledge, skill and time dedicated to managing domestic abuse led to considerable shortfalls in the quality of case management.
Many assessments were superficial. The tools that staff were using to complete assessments did not always help them to analyse and assess their cases thoroughly.
This left them without the necessary understanding of the context of the domestic abuse and the factors linked to the behaviours in the case. Some plans were helpful and included appropriately sequenced, individualised objectives, but this was not common practice.
Some of the CRCs’ work to protect victims (and especially children) was of grave concern. There was little correlation between the vision CRCs had for victims and the quality of practice.
Many probation workers did not fully understand the effect of domestic abuse on families or the relevance of an integrated approach to managing risk of harm. As such, they focused their work solely on the individual. Assessments and plans lacked depth: the voice and needs of victims, and information from partner agencies, were not analysed sufficiently and used to inform work to reduce risk of harm. Probation workers relied too much on the decisions of other agencies, such as children’s social care and the NPS, about levels of risk of harm and safeguarding, without checking their validity. As such, they were not always able to make effective decisions about how to protect victims and children. They often failed to see the monitoring of external controls, such as restraining orders, or undertaking home visits, as an integral part of their work.”
Why does this matter?
We see many clients who bitterly regret their offending behaviour and seek help in addressing the underlying causes. A society that does not assist offenders to rehabilitate bears a heavy cost, both financial and worse. All policymakers must address the concerns in recent reports as a matter of urgency.
Please contact John Howey on 0207 328 1658 or email@example.com for assistance with any criminal law related enquiry.Read More
If I’m acquitted will the alleged offence show on a DBS check?
An ordinary DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check reveals convictions and cautions. An enhanced check, required for many jobs, may reveal information held by the police such as intelligence, arrests, prosecutions and acquittals.
Surely an acquittal shouldn’t be on the check?
This was challenged in Court by “AR”, he was a qualified teacher who had been working as a taxi driver when he was accused of rape.
His defence was that there had never been any sexual contact with the complainant, although she had been in his taxi. He was acquitted. When he applied for a job as a lecturer the enhanced check revealed the acquittal and the details of the allegation.
What did the Court say?
The Court said that in certain circumstances such information could be included on enhanced checks and in “AR’s” case it was correct to do so.
The court said “in principle, even acquittal by a criminal court following a full trial can be said to imply no more than the charge has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. In principle, it leaves open the possibility that the allegation was true, and the risks associated with that.”
Who makes the decision?
In the first instance, the police decide whether the information should be included on an enhanced check (although in practice many matters are ‘filtered’ and removed automatically from consideration).
They can disclose non-conviction information that may identify a potential risk to the vulnerable; the test is based on relevance, truth/substantiation and proportionality.
It is not automatic, therefore, that an acquittal would be disclosed, as the circumstances of the acquittal need to be considered and consideration given as to whether the offender may have committed the alleged offence.
It is vital that if there is any positive evidence that the offender did not commit the offence, for example because the complainant admitted lying, that this is brought to the attention of the police.
How can we help?
A decision to include information on an enhanced check can be objected to and representations made to the police and if unsuccessful, can also then be appealed to the Information Governance Unit. We can assist you in formulating these representations. The solicitor who represented “AR” is also considering an appeal against this decision so that the situation may change. We always stay up to date with any changes in legislation or case-law so that we are I the best position to advise you. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or email firstname.lastname@example.org uk.Read More
There has been much ado in the press about police forces undertaking random eyesight checks on motorists and revoking licences at the roadside. So, what are their powers?
Can the police stop me?
Under section 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 a police officer in uniform has the power to require a driver of a vehicle on a road to stop. It is an offence to fail to comply with such a request.
Does the officer have to be in uniform?
To use this power the officer has to be in uniform. (There is a widely-held belief that if an officer is not wearing a helmet they are not in uniform is not correct). There is a common law power, however, for an officer not in uniform to request a vehicle to stop although there would be no penalty for failing to comply.
What is the law about vision and driving?
You must be able to read a registration plate from 20 metres (approximately five car lengths). It is an offence to drive with uncorrected defective eyesight.
Can the police ask me to do a roadside eye test?
You could be asked to undertake the test voluntarily. Otherwise, there must be a suspicion that you may be guilty of driving when you cannot comply with the vision test requirement. If the officer does suspect, you can be required to submit to a test.
Section 96 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 provides this power. The test can be carried out between 8am and 9pm, only in daylight.
What if I refuse to do the test?
If the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you have been driving while your eyesight is such that you could not pass the test and you refuse to do so, you are committing an offence.
What could happen?
Failing to stop for a police officer, under section 163, can be punished by a fine.
Driving with uncorrected defective eyesight or refusing to submit to a test of vision carries a fine, discretionary disqualification and an obligatory endorsement of three penalty points.
What about my licence, can it be revoked?
If you fail a vision test at the roadside, or fail to comply, the police can immediately report this fact to the DVLA.
There is a fast track system whereby a decision to revoke your licence can quickly be made, such a decision taking place within hours. Once your licence is revoked, it will be not be returned until you can demonstrate that your eyesight meets the required standard.
Your licence being revoked will not prevent a prosecution for the offences outlined above.
Why is this in the news?
The power for fast-track revocation has existed since 2013. The power is now being widely reported as three police forces have announced their intention to undertake such checks at the roadside, this may be extended nationwide.
Based on a study by the Association of Optometrists it is estimated that some 1 million people in the UK are driving illegally. RSA Insurance estimates that eyesight problems cause nearly 3000 casualties per year on the UK roads.
The police forces involved in the initiative have said that they will be gathering data as to the extent of any issues. Potentially, this could lead to a further mandatory vision test at some stage after the practical driving test.
What can we do to help?
We are experts in road traffic law and can advise you if you are facing investigation or prosecution. To discuss any aspect of your case, please call John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or email, email@example.com