Posts Tagged ‘ Sheffield ’


TO CAPITA IT ALL OFF!

Written by admin
September 13th, 2019

For years now the DSCC has been run out of call centres in South Yorkshire.  Operations to the east of Sheffield started back in the last decade with staff employed by Ventura.  The contract then passed to Capita with many of the same staff continuing in-post.  As of August 2019 the DSCC will cease to be operated by Capita and will now move under the wing of HGS.  Hinduja Global Solutions will be running the DSCC out of premises in Chiswick and Preston.

We wish all at HGS the very best for the years to come but want to take this opportunity to thank our friends at Capita.  There are many familiar voices who, during the last five years, have joined us at breakfast, dinner and tea, in bed in the middle of the night, and occasionally, when things get really busy, in the shower!  We thank you all and wish all of you the very best for the future.

SLAUGHTER OF THOSE PROTECTING THE INNOCENT

Written by admin
September 3rd, 2019

Figures published by CLSA and The Law Society indicate a 29% drop in the number of duty solicitors since 2016.  This has caused us to review our own position and the position of duty solicitors in the areas that we serve.

As far as duty solicitors in Nottingham are concerned, there was a time when 104 names appeared on the duty solicitor rota.  In October there will be no more than 71.  Plainly, this fall is higher than the national average.

As far as duty solicitors in Derby are concerned, at the high tide there were 74 names on the rota, but as of October 2019 it will be down to 51.   A dramatic fall for a rota that has to provide duty solicitors for Derby, Ilkeston, Ripley, Alfreton and beyond.

In Sheffield, it is harder to compare numbers of duty solicitors as the closure of the Rotherham court has confused matters to some extent.  The simple reality however is that for a city of well over half a million people there are only 46 duty solicitors on the rota.  With three duty solicitors required to attend court Monday to Friday, this is a real problem area.

In Barnsley, the number of duty solicitors has fallen from 25 to 16.  Doncaster duty solicitors are down from 38 to 23.  In Grimsby there are now 19 duty solicitors to cover an area that used to have both a Scunthorpe and a Grimsby rota handling the work.

The Lincoln duty solicitor rota at current shows 19 names, but this substantial university town is likely to be by no more than 17.

There can be no doubt that the failure to increase rates for remuneration and the growing distance involved in travelling to service “local” clients are factors that are contributed to the disappearance of enthusiastic young solicitors and the early retirement of those who have been doing it for many years.  If ever there was a time for the government to address the factors that have seen this service cut to the bone, it must surely be now.

NOTTINGHAM VIA ROTHERHAM AND SHEFFIELD

Written by admin
May 13th, 2019

The Johnson Partnership are delighted to announce the appointment of Annette Thomas to our Higher Courts Advocate Team.

Having started her legal career with Nottingham with Messrs Bhatia Best Annette has gained considerable experience with firms in Chesterfield, Rotherham and Sheffield. We are delighted to say that she has agreed to join us at The Johnson Partnership, being principally based at our Nottingham office.

Living in the Chesterfield area, Annette is perfectly positioned to help with cases in the Crown Courts at Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield, Lincoln, and even, at a push, Hull and Grimsby. We are delighted to have been joined by an experienced advocate with skill, judgement and insight in abundance. Annette’s calm and considered approach puts colleagues and clients at ease, knowing that they are dealing with a consummate professional.

CLOSENESS IS TOO COSY FOR COMFORT

Written by admin
March 15th, 2019

The arrival of a new super custody suite for South Humberside throws up all the usual questions for the Defence solicitors in the area. Traditionally, Defence solicitors in South Humberside are based either in Scunthorpe or Grimsby. Strictly speaking, the new custody suite is not in the centre of either of these two population centres.

Obviously, there is the possibility for new offices to be opened close to the new custody suite, but as ever, this begs the question of whether an office close to a police station really does bring the expected return.

How many people leave the police station and decide the first place that they want to go rather than home, the pub, their drug dealer or McDonald’s is actually their solicitor. How many people arrive at the police station under their own steam only to think at the last minute “Oh that’s what I forgot! A solicitor!” Those arriving in custody having been transported by the police tend to arrive at the rear of police stations and do not pass the open arms of the Defence solicitors whose offices have been invitingly opened nearby. Even those who are driven to the front of the station are unlikely to take in the subtleties of the names of particular firms.

Inevitably then, it seems likely that The Johnson Partnership will not be opening a new office near to South Humberside’s new custody centre.

In recent times, a small rank of well-established Defence firms have opened in the proximity of Derby’s St Mary’s Wharf custody suite. One of our competitors, when relocating within Chesterfield city centre, decided that an office, cheek by jowel with the town’s police station, was a good investment. Within our area, only the wise folk of Sheffield seem to have decided that relocating to the unlovely, unprepossessing, inconvenient and unwelcoming area of the new Shepcote Lane custody suite would be a poor idea.

Discussions with clients show that they tend to be suspicious of many Defence solicitors who are seen as part of the establishment. The Duty Solicitor Scheme has, from time to time, fallen into disrepute, because clients have believed that duty solicitors were “police solicitors”. To do anything to bolster this idea of cosiness seems to be, if not commercial suicide, certainly a serious commercial illness which might result in some haemorrhaging of clients.

Whether it be Nottingham, Derby, Chesterfield, Mansfield, Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster, Scunthorpe, Grimsby or Lincoln, The Johnson Partnership are pleased to assert our independence, whether it be from police officers, prisons, the Youth Offending Team, the probation service, Judges, prosecutors, or whosoever else may be part of our system.

Lock ups and Lock outs

Written by admin
November 19th, 2018

In a desperate attempt to save Her Majesty’s government a few extra ill-gotten pounds, the MOJ are now consulting on closing the remand courts in Doncaster, Barnsley, Beverly and Grimsby. The only remand courts in South Yorkshire and to the whole of Humberside, would be in Sheffield and Hull.

On the face of it, the considerable expense involved in refurbishments at Barnsley and Doncaster and the installation of video links at all three courts now seems to be for nothing.

The travel to be imposed on families and friends, who want to be present for vital first hearings, subsequent bail applications and hugely important sentencings are a cost that will now have to be met by the poorest members of society rather than the government through the justice system.

If there is anything that can be done to avoid the alienation and injustice that these sorts of closures bring we, at The Johnson Partnership, want to help to do it. We have long felt that it is time that the justice system operated for the benefit of those defendants, the complainants and witnesses who find themselves unwittingly involved in it, rather than its administrators and overlords.

 

Wragg and Hooplah for the Big City!

Written by admin
July 20th, 2018

To strengthen and support our Sheffield Office team, Lucy Hooper and Yvonne Wragg have both transferred their allegiances from the East Midlands to South Yorkshire.

Yvonne has gone to our Sheffield Office as day to day manager and organiser as well as being the lead fee earner.

Lucy Hooper left behind her the good folk of Chesterfield in order to take over the office administration as well as coordinate the police station advice and some Crown Court preparation. Sometimes we are told that our reward will be in heaven, but in Lucy’s case I am delighted the she is not having to wait quite that long. Following her impressive performance at the Sheffield Office Lucy has been offered a training contract with immediate effect which will see her progress through the firm at a rate commensurate with her skills and commitment.

We wish both Yvonne and Lucy all the best and are confident that under their stewardship the Sheffield Office will continue its day on day growth.

THE MATHS ADD UP FOR LOONY LISTING

Written by Sian Hall
March 27th, 2018

Few can truly doubt the integrity of Crown Court Listing Departments throughout the country. Certainly, Crown Courts in Nottingham, Sheffield, Derby, Lincoln, and Grimsby all bear the hallmarks of hardworking teams of people with a good understanding trying to do their best for everyone.

Nevertheless, the fact that listing is a problem is something that cannot be doubted. This week, on one day, the firm had six trials, all removed from the list at less than 48 hours’ notice. There was undoubtedly good reason for this. The courts in which the cases were due to be heard were busy indeed throughout the rest of the week. With one exception, all of the cases went off to new trial dates in August.

In spite of howls of derision from the profession, the MOJ have stoically refused to do anything about the problem. There is scope to agree to further judge sitting days! There is scope to designate empty Magistrates’ Court facilities as temporary Crown Courts. Sadly, both of the above require extra funding.

It is not just that extra funding hits the MOJ’s current budget. In reality, there is a twofold gain for the Ministry. By not spending money on judges and extra courtrooms, they avoid unintended and unexpected expense. By ensuring that cases are adjourned for a period of four to five months equally ensure that the bills to be submitted by advocates and litigators for those matters fall into the next financial year. Indeed, there is also the third potential benefit of complainants or defendants losing the will to fight, or cases being side-tracked by new charges or new proceedings, which can lead to extra savings as trials fail to take place at all.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that delay and adjournments are the sole brothers and sisters of a financially hamstrung Ministry of Justice.

SARAH BROWN IS BACK IN TOWN!

Written by Sian Hall
February 13th, 2018

We are delighted to welcome Sarah Brown to our Sheffield office. A skilled advocate in both the Magistrates’ Court and Crown Court, Sarah has kindly agreed to augment our Sheffield office two days each week, whilst continuing to teach law and practice at Sheffield College.

The combination of practical fee-earning work and the understanding that comes with the need to impart knowledge to others, will benefit both the firm and Sarah’s students alike.

We are looking forward to the benefits that are bound to come from bringing somebody on board who has a wealth of experience and an independent and critical eye. Inevitably, benefits will not just flow to students and to members of staff, there is bound to be a real dividend for our growing Sheffield client base.

OUT OF TOWN IS OUT OF MIND

Written by Sian Hall
December 12th, 2017

In a time when more and more firms of solicitors are moving to sites outside of city centres with modern facilities and parking outside the front door, The Johnson Partnership has made a conscious decision to remain true to our inner city roots.

In recent times we have had to give consideration to whether or not we could better serve our clients by moving to locations on business parks or new developments anywhere between a mile or three miles from their local town or city centre.

Although the prospect of ample parking and high speed broadband are immensely tempting, we have always been left reflecting how inaccessible such premises would be to the vast majority of our clients. Even though they could travel to offices by private car they have still expressed the opinion that they would rather tie in a trip to the solicitors with a visit to other city centre locations, rather than having to make a special trip to the middle of somewhere approaching nowhere.

The proximity to courts, police stations, Crown Prosecution Service offices, and the like gives us an unassailable advantage when it comes to looking after clients arrested on warrants, requiring quick interviews or needing urgent conferences.

While it can be true that there is relatively little passing trade for criminal solicitors, it is equally true that many clients with current cases will want to call in for a quick but urgent reassurance.

As far as staff are concerned, the prospect of palatial premises with accountants and government departments as neighbours is tempting; but never quite as tempting as the stores, bars, cafes, and restaurants of a good old town or city centre.

There is of course an argument to suggest that our slightly unusually situated Sheffield office breaks the mould. While not in a new purpose built professional palace, it does occupy the singular and characterful premises of the old Banners Department store loved by thousands!

YES, BUT WHAT ABOUT SKEGNESS?

Written by Sian Hall
December 7th, 2017

As well as the major courts and police stations served by each office, there is inevitably a penumbra of places that each office will serve. The Nottingham office will serve Grantham, Loughborough, Leicester, and many points south. The Derby office will serve Burton, Cannock, Tamworth and the like. Staff from Chesterfield will be seen at the Buxton custody suite or attending voluntary interviews in Bakewell or Matlock. The Sheffield office can cover Rotherham almost as easily as it can Sheffield. The Barnsley office reaches out to Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Wakefield and all of the other West Yorkshire towns including the super custody suite at Normanton Top. The Doncaster office covers Goole, Thorne, York, and beyond. Our Scunthorpe and Grimsby offices will jointly look after cases in Goole, Hull, Bridlington, etc. The Lincoln office will happily pull in work in Gainsborough, Sleaford, Boston, and so on. The Mansfield office regularly services work in Newark, Retford, Worksop, and Sutton in Ashfield. All offices then have their own immediate courts and police stations and many more besides.

The question however is which office will service Skegness? Every summer clients stream out to the east coast for sun, sea, sand, and soggy chips. Every weekend in spring and autumn there are dance raves and party events as well as the Butlins weekenders to attract the hordes. Throughout the year there are people visiting friends and relatives who have retired to the coast or simply stepped that way in order to “get away” from who knows what. The custody suite at Skegness is a regular reporter to the DSCC.

Whatever the day of the week, whatever the month of the year, whatever the time of day, the questions always arises Who is going to go to Skegness?”  The Lincoln office remains a laborious hour away. The staff at the Scunthorpe office claim that it would take them at least an hour and a half to get there. The Grimsby solicitors, perhaps geographically closest, swear blind that the roads are so bad that they cannot get there in under two hours. So then, the question perpetuates. Yet for 27 years, one way or another, in spite of its apparent unfeasibility, The Johnson Partnership have been looking after clients in Skegness, be they in the court or the police station, whatever the season and whatever the time.

Inevitably, our hearts go out to those members of staff who have completed their tasks in Skegness in the wee small hours. For them, there isn’t even the solace of a stick of last year’s rock or a soggy slab of cod.

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