Posts Tagged ‘ prison service ’


GET ON THE FRONT FOOT FOR A TRAINING DAY

Written by Sian Hall
March 20th, 2018

Two or three times a year the Crown Courts on each circuit close for a judicial training day. Judges from that circuit will gather together in order to be updated on everything from new developments in the law to changes in sentencing practice.

In reality, this means that almost no work is dealt with in the Crown Court on the days in question. Huge numbers of counsel, solicitors, and clerks find themselves with unexpected time on their hands.

Unfortunately, for the CPS, expert witnesses, police officers, and prison staff this bonus time tends to result in a deluge of phone calls and emails. Solicitors and clerks have the chance to chase up old enquiries that have not been answered, make new requests, book visits for weeks in advance, and raise issues on fully or partially written reports.

In short, many involved in the Crown Court process have come to regard training days as something they have to gear up for with a sense of dread, rather than, as was once the case, regarding them as a day for rest and reflection with feet on the desk.

POSTAL REQUISITIONS FROM HELL

Written by Sian Hall
February 25th, 2018

The idea of people being posted and goods or services being requisitioned immediately brings back memories of old World War II movies on black and white Sunday afternoons.

In their wisdom, the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunal Service decided some little time ago to replace the time served summons with a new postal requisition. The postal requisition requires somebody to attend court at a particular time on a particular date and is posted to the last known address of the would-be recipient.

With voluntary interviews away from custody suites becoming more and more common, and with defendants being called to attend at court long after they have been allegedly released under investigation, the postal requisition is now in its heyday.

Having somebody back at the police station in order to charge them and give them a new date face to face, on which they were required to attend at court, obviously had a level of direct drive certainty about it. The postal requisition has introduced endless vagaries and uncertainties into a previously quick and efficient process.

Perhaps the weirdest and wackiest use of the postal requisition is to commence proceedings against someone who is still known to be a serving prisoner. A document is posted to the individual at the prison, but it is rarely sent out along with an order calling on the prison to produce that person to court. The prisoner sits in his cell, the court wants to know where they are, and the connective tissue of the production order has never been put in place.

Now that the West Yorkshire Police are rolling out trial mobile fingerprint scanners, perhaps the day of the mobile custody suite, with all the certainty and clarity that that entails, may not be far hence and the days of the postal requisition may yet be numbered.

INCREASE IN THE SCOPE OF LEGAL AID “SURELY SOME MISTAKE”

Written by Sian Hall
February 10th, 2018

As of late February this year legal aid will again be available for prisoners facing certain types of adjudications and applications from which it had previously been withdrawn.

Life sentence prisoners and IPP prisoners facing pre-tariff review hearings will again be entitled to fully prepared representation at oral hearings. These are essential in assisting prisoners in working towards release and ensuring, for example, that they are moved to open conditions at the earliest opportunity. There is much to be considered, reports and other evidence to be obtained and representations not only to be put forward but argued most strenuously.

Legal aid will also be available to prisoners held in Category A conditions, who have the chance of re-categorisation. The extreme restriction on liberty involved in being a Cat A prisoner is now understood to be something that ought to be capable of challenge with the benefit of assistance in preparation and representation at any relevant hearings.

Finally, legal aid will also be available to those wishing to challenge detention in a closed supervision centre. These “prisons within prisons” are often used to house prisoners convicted of terrorist offences. The conditions within CSC’s and the general circumstances of the regime are thought now to be ones which should be capable of challenge with the benefit of a fully prepared representation.

The thought of any these categories of prisoners being dealt with without representation is startling abhorrent. It has to be good news that all of those, in these particular circumstances, can now be dealt with in a fair, just, and acceptable way. We are delighted to say that our Prison Law Department now has seven keen members, all are fully committed to embracing the challenges that the new legal aid regulations will inevitably bring.

Do not hesitate to contact us at any time on (0115) 941 9141 and ask either for Digby Johnson or the Prison Law Team.

NOTHING MEEK ABOUT THE NEW FORCE IN CHESTERFIELD

Written by Sian Hall
February 1st, 2018

On 15th January 2018, after almost ten years with the firm, Karl Meakin stepped out on his own account in the Magistrates’ Court.  An experienced prison lawyer, Karl is now strengthening the team of Chesterfield advocates comprised of Bob Sowter, Kirsty Sargent, and the inestimable John Wilford.

Karl will also be continuing to carrying on preparation and advocacy work for the Prison Law Team throughout the country.

The Chesterfield advocates are ably backed up by Richard Pell, Lucy Hooper, Yasmin James-Birch, and Lynda Gilbert.

With John’s added qualities as a regulatory specialist, the team has not only depth but considerable breadth.

Bob Sowter brings with him not only massive expertise in terms of adult and youth crime, but also a history of work carried out on behalf of the road haulage sector, which has ably equipped him to deal with a broader than average range of road traffic and vehicle related issues.

The remarkable Kirsty Sargent is the beating heart of the team, an excellent advocate and a superb organiser and administrator.

Karl could hardly be joining a finer group of lawyers who should ease him to greatness at an early stage.

PRISON LAW FOR ALL

Written by Sian Hall
October 20th, 2017

After months of consideration, The Johnson Partnership now have a freshly printed leaflet containing advice and guidance for newly incarcerated prisoners.

 

Any Johnson Partnership client who finds themselves remanded into custody on a new charge, or sentenced to a term of custody, will immediately be provided with the Prison Law Guide.

 

Lovingly crafted by Euan Edwards and Devon Broome, the new leaflet sets out to answer questions that would trouble many prisoners facing an adjudication, or a review of many sorts. Our objective is to ensure that all clients know who to ask and where to find them within the firm if they have any questions that require an answer, whether or not the particular issuecomes within the scope of the current legal aid regime.

 

Many congratulations to Euan and Devon for their hard work!

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