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News Round-Up Week Ending 21.11.14

(Posted on 20/11/14)


Police Dismiss Crime!

An HM Inspectorate of Constabulary report has found that one in five crimes reported to them is not recorded by the police. That is 800,000 unrecorded crimes a year, and the figures are even worse for violent crime, with up to a third going unrecorded and consequently un-investigated.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: "[This investigation] confirms my concern that there have been utterly unacceptable failings in the way police forces have recorded crime."

"A national crime recording rate of 81 per cent is inexcusably poor," admitted HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor. "This is not about numbers and dry statistics, it's about victims and the protection of the public. 

"Victims need and are entitled to support and assistance. They - and their communities - are entitled to justice. Failures in crime recording can also increase the risks to victims and the community of the denial of justice. The police therefore need to take this subject very seriously."

Adam Pemberton, of the Victim Support charity, concurred: "The sheer number of crimes that have been dismissed by the police is alarming."

RJ Mk3

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has released its third Restorative Justice Action Plan.

In the past three years, £30 million has been raised from offenders to fund restorative justice projects. Three quarters of that money has been allocated to police and crime commissioners (PCCs).

“As victims’ champion, I am absolutely committed to putting victims first and these RJ initiatives are all designed to help empower people who have been affected by crime,” quoted Merseyside Deputy PCC Councillor Ann O'Byrne as saying. “Restorative justice is about giving victims the chance to be heard, to get answers and to get a sense of closure. Giving victims the chance to come face-to-face with those who have committed crimes against them can help them to find a really positive way forward.”

Delayed Reaction

In a trial veiled in secrecy, Erol Incedal was found guilty of possessing a bomb-making manual on November 11th but the judge prohibited the reporting of the verdict before this week.

Incedal will face a retrial next year after the jury failed to reach a verdict on the second charge of preparing acts of terrorism.

Lawyers for various media organisations continue to challenge the secrecy order.

Passport to Purgatory

Civil rights groups have reacted to the Government’s plans to ban suspected British jihadis from re-entering the UK, declaring that would illegally render them stateless.

“Legislation should encourage citizens to return and face due process rather than force them to stay in a crisis zone and further radicalise themselves or others in the UK through their online activities,” Quilliam’s Jonathan Russell said. “We should not develop legislation that assumes individuals are guilty until proven innocent.”

“Dumping suspect citizens like toxic waste, abdicating your responsibilities to the international community, is a very strange way of promoting the rule of law,” agreed Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty. “When will our governments learn there are no shortcuts to our security? It needs to be built on intelligence, evidence and justice, not speeches, soundbites and ever-more new laws.”

“It’s obviously a very difficult situation because you have people who have become radicalised,” Prime Minister David Cameron sought to explain in a speech to the Australian Parliament in Canberra. “The security service try to prevent attacks, and we have to make sure that they have resources to do everything they can. There’s no such thing as 100% security.”

The bill will be rushed through by January and cover the right to leave and enter the UK, tighter restrictions on airlines, and powers for senior police officers and border police to seize passports.

The Cost of Cuts

The National Audit Office’s review of £300m cuts to civil legal aid has concluded that the Ministry of Justice didn’t adequately consider their wider implications. “[The MoJ] has been slower to think through how and why people access civil legal aid,” Amyas Morse, head of the audit office, said. “Without this understanding, the ministry’s implementation of the reforms to civil legal aid cannot be said to have delivered better overall value for money for the taxpayer.”

“We had one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world at around £2bn per year,” the MoJ countered. “Given the financial crisis inherited by this government there was no choice but to find significant savings. This report confirms we are doing just that.

“This was never going to be an easy process, but we have made the necessary reductions whilst ensuring legal aid remains available where people most need legal help.”

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan saw it differently: “This damning report by the National Audit Office completely exposes David Cameron’s reckless assault on access to justice for what it really is: bad value for money and leaving hundreds of thousands without proper legal advice.”

Farage in Foreign Farrago

The UKIP leader has dismissed claims that his party supports the deportation of existing migrants after suggestions of such by his party’s candidate for Rochester and Strood.

Former Conservative Mark Reckless was asked, at a hustings broadcast on ITV's Meridian, what would happen to European Union migrants if the UK were to leave the EU. He said they would be looked at ‘sympathetically’ but only allowed to remain in the UK for ‘a fixed period’.

Later, on BBC Radio Kent, Mr Reckless denied suggesting deportation and accused Conservative rivals of twisting his words.

His party leader then explained that the ‘transitional period’ referred to a time for negotiation between any vote to leave the EU and the actual withdrawal.

"When we invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which sets us off on a two-year negotiation to leave the EU, part of that renegotiations is what happens to retired people from Britain living on the Costa del Sol and what happens to people from Warsaw living in London," Nigel Farage told the BBC. "Let me make this clear, during our divorce negotiations, even if the EU was to behave badly and say [British] people living in Spain were to be threatened with not being there, we would maintain the line that we believe in the rule of law, we believe in British justice and we believe that anyone who has come to Britain legally has the right to remain."

Mr Reckless has since won the seat.

Criminal Correspondents

Scotland Yard has been secretly recording the activities of a group of journalists on a database intended to monitor so-called domestic extremism. 

Six journalists, frequently engaged in investigating police misconduct and backed by their union, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), have launched a legal action to expose what they claim is a pattern of assaults, monitoring and stop-and-search checks on them, and to have files on them destroyed. 

“There is no justification for treating journalists as criminals or enemies of the state,” said NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet.