A recent report published by the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has criticised what it considers to be the Government’s failure to allow enough time to fully examine the human rights implications of some of its legislation....
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Cutting edge satellite technology is to be brought to Scotland to track offenders for the first time following the signing of a new contract, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has announced....
Fines collection remains strong across Scotland and a report issued by the Scottish Court Service shows that 90% of the value of sheriff court fines imposed over a three year period from 2008 to 2011 has either been paid or is on track to be paid through instalments.
Since 2008, more than 430,000 enforcement orders have been granted by the courts and more than 94,000 of these have been for deductions from benefits. Enforcement officers have also agreed revised terms in 140,000 accounts.
Online facilities now enable most fines to be paid round the clock. Just over 8000 transactions totalling £350,000 were made through this site during July, with online payments reaching £1.8 million during the 2011-12 financial year.
Most fines, including parking or police tickets, can now be paid online. Only fines which involve the endorsement of a driving licence with penalty points cannot be paid electronically including some police traffic tickets and penalties issued by the Safety Camera Partnerships for speeding or running a red light.
A man has been sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh to five years imprisonment after being found guilty of rape and theft occurring in March 2011 in Glasgow.
The case was prosecuted under the new Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, specifically the provisions which set out that if a victim removes consent during sexual intercourse, and the accused continues, then the crime is one of rape.
Advocate Depute Gillian Wade, Head of the National Sexual Crimes Unit and prosecutor in this case, said:
“The new Sexual Offences Act, which came into force in 2010, sets out clearly what constitutes consent, and Scotland’s expert prosecutors will continue to use this legislation to its full.”
The latest Business Crime Index from AXA Insurance shows levels of crime committed against businesses in the UK have grown by 16% in the worst hit areas, while across the UK the cost of theft has increased significantly alongside a rise in the use of violence.
The findings, taken from AXA's business insurance claims records to end May 2012, suggest that the riots of last summer contributed to an overall 3% increase in the level of crimes against businesses during the last twelve months. However, riots aside, the increase reflects a general and continuing upward trend of crime against business in the last two years with a 3% increase also recorded for the previous year.
The most common crime committed against business is theft, accounting for around 74% of the total volume. And while numbers of thefts have risen only slightly over the last twelve months there has been a significant rise of 6% in the average value of theft claims to just under £4000. The number of thefts involving force or violence has also increased by around 6%.
Aside from riot claims, arson was the crime that saw the biggest rise last year with around 10% more cases while malicious damage claims against businesses dropped by around 10%.
Many remand prisoners in England and Wales had a poorer regime and less support than sentenced prisoners, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing a short thematic review.
This is despite a long-established principle that remand prisoners, who have not been convicted or sentenced by a court, have rights and entitlements not available to sentenced prisoners.
At any one time, remand prisoners make up about 15% of the prison population, between 12,000 to 13,000 prisoners. Women and those from black and minority ethnic and foreign national backgrounds are over-represented.
The Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) has disrupted the activities of more serious organised crime groups than ever before as a result of a range of new tactics used in the last year.
The SCDEA disrupted serious organised crime groups on 109 occasions, twice as many as last year, with 42 classed as high level resulting in the most significant impact to the criminals and their groups.
The figure is highlighted as part of the SCDEA’s annual report for 2011-12. Other key figures from the report include:
Scotland’s Chief Statistician has published Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2011-12. The publication presents statistics on crimes and offences recorded and cleared up by the eight Scottish police forces in 2011-12.
The figures show that the total number of crimes recorded by the police decreased by 3% between 2010-11 and 2011-12. In 2011-12, the Scottish police recorded 314,186 crimes, 9,061 fewer crimes than in 2010-11.
The main findings include:
The Government has announced changes to the Immigration Rules for family migration as part of its programme of reform of the migration routes. These changes are due to come into effect in July 2012.
As part of these changes, the Government intends to end the situation where those claiming the right to enter or remain in the UK on the basis of ECHR Article 8 – the right to respect for private and family life – do so essentially without regard to the Immigration Rules.
The new rules will reflect fully the factors which can weigh for or against an Article 8 claim. They will set proportionate requirements that reflect, as a matter of public policy, the Government’s and Parliament’s view of how individual rights to respect for private or family life should be qualified in the public interest to safeguard the economic well-being of the UK by controlling immigration and to protect the public from foreign criminals. This will mean that failure to meet the requirements of the rules will normally mean failure to establish an Article 8 claim to enter or remain in the UK, and no grant of leave on that basis.
The Immigration Rules will reflect the UK Border Agency’s duty to have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare – or ‘best interests’ – of children who are in the UK. The rules will set clear thresholds for the impact of an applicant’s criminality on the scope for them to be granted leave to enter the UK on the basis of their family life or leave to remain in the UK on the basis of their family or private life. The rules will also reflect the fact that family life established when the parties knew one or both of them lacked a valid basis of stay in the UK carries less weight under the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.
The UN Human Rights Council has issued the UK’s latest human rights “report card.” Sixty-one countries commended the UK’s ongoing commitment to human rights but made recommendations for improvements, reports the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
The UN’s 132 recommendations encourage the UK to strengthen human rights protection for vulnerable individuals. The UN also recommends that the rights set out in the Equality Act, the Human Rights Act and international human rights laws are preserved. It notes that the right balance must be found between security and people’s basic rights, for example in the areas of stop and search, counter-terrorism and migration policy.
According to the Scottish Human Rights Commission, recommendations from other UN member states also included that the UK:
Victims of stalking, harassment or abduction who are granted protection in one EU Member State could get fully equivalent protection if they move to another under new rules approved by the European Parliament's Legal Affairs and Women's Rights committees.
Under the new rules, any victim of gender violence, abduction or aggression, who has been granted protection in one EU Member State, would just need to fill in a standard and multilingual certificate to have his or her right to protection fully enforced throughout the EU.
The proposed regulation on civil matters complements the European Protection Order Directive on criminal cases. Together, the two instruments would cover the broadest possible range of protection measures issued in the Member States. A typical example of such a measure would be an order requiring a stalker to stay away from places frequented by the victim and refrain from contacting her.
The Supreme Court has given its ruling in the case of Julian Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority.
Mr Assange is the subject of a request for extradition by the Swedish Prosecuting Authority for the purposes of an investigation into alleged offences of sexual molestation and rape. A European Arrest Warrant (EAW) had been issued by a prosecutor in Sweden in December 2010.
Mr Assange challenged the validity of the EAW on the ground (amongst others) that it had been issued by a public prosecutor who was not a ‘judicial authority’ as required by the Framework Decision and the Extradition Act 2003.
His challenge failed before the Senior District Judge at the extradition hearing and on appeal before the Divisional Court. The Supreme Court granted permission to bring an appeal on this ground as the issue was one of general public importance.
The Supreme Court by a majority of five to two has dismissed the appeal and held that an EAW issued by a public prosecutor is a valid Part 1 warrant issued by a judicial authority within the meaning of section 2(2) and 66 of the 2003 Act.
Subsequent to the ruling Ms Rose (counsel for Mr Assange) has indicated that she may make an application to re-open the Court's decision. Ms Rose suggested that the majority of the Court appear to have based their decision on the interpretation of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, on which no argument was heard.
The Supreme Court has granted Ms Rose fourteen days to make such an application. If she decides to do so, the Justices will then decide whether to re-open the appeal and accept further submissions (either verbally through a further hearing, or on paper) on the matter.
UK businesses will be required to disclose all their efforts to end slavery, under a Bill launched in Parliament.
The Transparency in Supply Chains Bill, drafted by the Centre for Social Justice and Labour MP Fiona MacTaggart, will demand that businesses investigate whether their supply chains are slave-free.
As part of landmark measures to raise awareness about the nature and scale of human trafficking, businesses will be encouraged to conduct an audit of their suppliers to check that they comply with anti-slavery laws.
An estimated 27 million people are enslaved worldwide and this latest legislation will prompt all UK businesses, with a turnover of over £100 million or more, to take responsibility to end this appalling abuse.
Employees working with suppliers should be trained to blow the whistle on questionable practice, and all information of the vital work being done to combat slavery should be published online as part of the business’s annual review.
The Bill, intended to foster cooperation and build a consensus on slavery, is expected to prompt a cultural change similar to that brought about by the environmental or fair trade movements.
The CSJ is conducting an 18 month review of slavery in the UK which will be published in the Autumn of 2012.
The police would get better and faster support from their counterparts in other EU countries, for example when asking them to conduct house searches or interview witnesses, under a proposed European Investigation Order endorsed by the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee.
“The European Investigation Order will provide us with better rules to investigate crimes in Europe and will contribute to the fight against corruption, drug trafficking and organised crime", said Parliament's rapporteur Nuno Melo.
The proposed rules aim to make it easier for the police to obtain evidence in another EU country when conducting criminal investigations. For example, if the French police are tracking criminals holed up in Germany, they could ask their German counterparts to carry out a home search or to interview witnesses there. This is already possible, but investigators have to rely on a 50-year-old patchwork of rules, which in many cases lead to unjustified delays and administrative burdens.
The European Investigation Order would limit the grounds for refusing a request from the police in another Member State and set strict deadlines for seeking evidence. It would also reduce paperwork, by introducing a single standard form for requesting help to obtain all kinds of evidence.
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