Justice, the renowned human rights organisation, has published a significant report that examines the prosecution of sexual offences, and in some areas calls for a radical overhaul.
Among the authors of the report is Judge Peter Rook QC, considered an expert authority on this area of law. He is a senior Judge at the Central Criminal Court (‘Old Bailey’).
Preventing and reducing offending
Two of the areas examined were preventing and reducing offending. Turning its attention to those who view indecent images of children (‘IIOC’), the report recommended as follows:
“Police-led diversion schemes have recently been developed. These seek to address the factors that may lead to offending behaviour without the need for prosecution. We have been inspired by the success of these programmes to develop our own proposal for a Conditional Diversion Scheme, for individuals who have viewed IIOC. We consider that this scheme will provide the correct intervention to these individuals as quickly as possible, helping to both save prosecution and court resources and ensure reoffending rates remain low. Our proposed scheme has been developed together with experts in the field and we consider it to be a sensible response to the volume of reports that the police receive each month.”
The authors also had much to say concerning rehabilitative programmes and the effect of protective/preventative orders:
“When it comes to sentencing, this working party believes that lessons should be learned from the skills-based approach to rehabilitation, which has shown this to be an effective way to reduce reoffending rates. There should be a shift in focus to rehabilitation and more flexibility should be given to sentencers to allow them to make suitable orders that allow the individual to rehabilitate effectively. This is especially the case for Sexual Harm Prevention Orders, where we have heard that overly restrictive orders can isolate an individual from society once released from prison, hindering them from getting their lives back on track and risking further offending.”
Our work brings us into contact with a great many people who commit sexual offences at all level of seriousness. Additionally, of course, many have committed no crime at all. We know that criminal investigation and proceedings can have a devastating effect on those accused and their wider families.
In all cases, we work sensitively and diligently to prepare a robust defence case when that is required and to work hard with others to ensure outcomes that work for our clients and the wider community when it comes to sentencing.
We welcome this report and its mature examination of such complex societal issues.
How we can assist
If you need specialist advice, then get in touch with John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or email@example.com and let us help, we deal with all manner of criminal offences on a daily basis and have the expertise to get you the best result possible.Read More
Forensic evidence has dominated some of the news agenda this week, with outrage over the interrogation of complainant’s phones in sexual offences and other cases.
What is happening?
Predictably, there have been suggestions that the entire contents of a complainant’s phone will simply be handed over to defendants, and that they can then be questioned about anything and everything they have ever done. This ignores the rules that exist to make sure that only relevant material is disclosed, and prevent unnecessary and inappropriate questioning in court.
In reality of course, if a police officer is to investigate a criminal offence fairly, the interrogation of phones, computers and other devices may well be necessary. This is despite the potential for intrusion into a person’s privacy.
It is our job as criminal defence lawyers to ensure that the police do their job. This includes following all proper lines of enquiry, and ensuring that all evidence that ought to be disclosed to us is revealed.
Miscarriages of justice
If you look at the significant miscarriage of justice cases over the last 50 years, the most critical failing appears to be a lack of proper disclosure of evidence. In some cases, the evidence is neglected, in others actually destroyed or deliberately suppressed. There have been a number of high-profile cases in recent months where evidence on a complainant’s phone painted a completely different picture to their evidence, and quite rightly resulted in acquittals.
Forensic science providers
The second big story this week was a report from the Lords Science and Technology Committee examining the work of forensic science providers in the criminal justice system. Here are some of the findings:
“The instability of the forensic science market is a serious risk to the criminal justice system.”
“A free society is dependent on the rule of law which in turn relies on equality of access to justice. The evidence we received points to failings in the use of forensic science in the criminal justice system and these can be attributed to an absence of high-level leadership, a lack of funding and an insufficient level of research and development. Throughout this inquiry, we heard about the decline in forensic science in England and Wales, especially since the abolition of the Forensic Science Service.”
“Cuts to legal aid have affected the ability of defendants to access forensic expertise. We recommend that the Legal Aid Agency liaise with the market-regulation arm within the expanded role of the Forensic Science Regulator to set new pricing schemes, properly funded by the Ministry of Justice, for forensic testing and expert advice for defendants.”
Regrettably, none of these findings causes us the least bit of surprise. We are acutely aware of the deficiencies in the current system. As defence lawyers, we work proactively to ensure that all work is carried out swiftly and to the required standard. Only by being fully aware of the weaknesses in the system can we ensure that our clients’ cases are appropriately presented.
How we can assist
If you need specialist advice, then get in touch with John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us help. We have the necessary skills and experience to assist you in respect to any criminal investigation or prosecution.Read More