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The School of Law, Policing and Forensics at Staffordshire University offers the LLB, LPC and LLM; degrees in Policing and Criminal Investigation, Professional Policing, Criminology, Criminal Justice with Offender Management, Forensic Science and Forensic Investigation. With over fifty staff members we have expertise in rape testing, prevention and prosecution, ballistic testing, fibre analysis, soil analysis, Family Law and Employment Law among others. We offer BA and BSc, MSci and MSCs along with a Masters by Applied Research in a range of areas, including Forensic Archaeology.

On this blog you will find news from the different areas of the School. You can follow us on twitter at:

@StaffsUniLPF

@StaffsCJF_Dept

@StaffsUniLaw

One million workers are being denied their rights

Hannah Lewis (Student)

A think tank called the Resolution Foundation claim as many as one in twenty British workers do not receive any holiday pay despite being entitled to the same. There are recorded to be 32 million people in the British workforce and the foundation suggests that at least one million people across the country are being denied their rights in one form or another. The report produced by Resolution First shows that workers are being failed by employers and despite the government taking steps to increase the resources of the HMRC and other bodies, it is largely up to the individuals of these injustices to hold their firms to account. More than 100,000 applications were made to the employment tribunal system in 2018.

Economists fear that job security is being undermined as the power of the trade union declines and the law fails to keep up with the changing employment landscape since the last recession. Although unemployment has fallen in Britain to the lowest levels since the 1970’s a rise in the use of the zero-hour contracts and employment through agencies has led to an abuse of workers’ rights. It is workers aged under 25 and over 65 that are most likely to be affected by violations of legal entitlements. The research shows that almost one in ten workers did not receive a payslip, which is a legal requirement. It is employees at the end of their working life that are the most likely to not receive payslips. The HMRC recorded 200,000 cases of workers not receiving minimum wage in 2018, the majority of those being at the beginning of their working career.

The British government have made many rules and regulations to control the labour market and ensure fairness to its workers. However, these rules are only as good as the agencies that have the power to enforce them. Violations remain a common feature of the job market and millions of people are missing out.

SULAC is a free legal advice clinic provided by final year law students at Staffordshire University. We can offer legal advice on all areas of employment law. Please call 01782 2944800 for an appointment.

 

‘More people need educating on Power of Attorney rights’

Bissmah Tariq (Student)

The Government’s Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) have announced a drastic rise in investigations into people with Lasting Power of Attorney over the 2017/18 period.

There have been many complaints of Lasting Power of Attorney misuse with a drastic rise in investigations of 45% over the past year. The majority of the investigations were carried out due to concerns from close relatives, local authorities, care homes, financial institutions and legal professionals.

Friends and relatives often accept the responsibility to make financial or health decisions on behalf of relatives or friends who no longer have the mental capacity to do so.

Since many do not fully understand what they are getting themselves into, this has led to people either accidentally or deliberately making mistakes such as not keeping clear records and wrongly gifting or taking money.

Royal London, which obtained the figures through a Freedom of Information request, strongly encourage people to educate themselves on their responsibilities when they agree to act under a Lasting Power of Attorney.

Helen Morrissey, personal finance specialist at the insurance and pensions firm, said: “When done properly the attorneys fulfil a vital role in safeguarding the interests of the person they are acting for. But the sheer number of investigations into their actions is concerning and something needs to be done to curb poor practice.”

Someone agreeing to be appointed under a lasting power of attorney has a legal duty to help make important life decisions on behalf of the individual even when he/she lacks mental capacity. It is strongly recommended that you keep clear and well written records and bank statements as evidence of expenditure to protect your position.

For further advice on powers of attorney please contact SULAC (Staffordshire University Legal advice clinic. Our team of academics and qualified and experienced Solicitors have experience in this particular area and can provide you with free legal advice. Please call 01782 294800 for an appointment.

 

Work Experience Alongside Offender Management Degree

Danielle Hackett is going into her second year in the BA Criminal Justice with Offender Management degree. She has been volunteering at Change, Grow, Live (CGL) and has written a post for us detailing how valuable she found the practical work experience opportunities.

Jade Taylor, a former student, is regional manager for CGL and several of our BA Criminal Justice with Offender Management currently volunteer on this programme.

I am starting my second year of Criminal Justice with Offender Management in September. In my first year of the course, I decided to become a volunteer for CGL (previously SOVA). CGL is a rehabilitation charity which works with offenders and ex-offenders in and out of prison, to help them to lead positive lives. In my role I work with the offenders whilst they are in prison serving their sentence and also when they get released from prison by mentoring them. I also pick up offenders on their release dates and support them throughout their first days out, as the first day out is always the most important. I also volunteer at probation, where the ex offenders can drop in and speak to us about an problems or queries they may have and I have recently had some amazing opportunities given to myself.

The first opportunity I had was a tour around YOI (Young Offenders Institute) Brinsford in Wolverhampton. That was the first ever YOI I had visited and I was stunned to learn that there was over 100 adult males also in there, even though there were 2 adult male prisons also on the site: Featherstone and Oakwood. The tour was very interesting and insightful, I walked through the ‘first night’ cells, where one half of the offenders were quiet and the other half were loud, banging on the doors and shouting abuse. I also got shown around segregation, where there were around 10 inmates locked up for things like fighting and at least half were on an ACCT. They had an education building, where the offenders were taught how to cook and they had gardens where the inmates were building a bigger pond. There is no therapy at the prison, therefore, I believe some inmates themselves used working on the garden as some kind of therapy. On res 5, the prisoners were trusted and so they had keys for their own rooms. The prison as a whole was more old fashioned than other prisons such as Dovegate.

The second opportunity due to my volunteering role which I have landed is being offered to be key trained at one of the prisons. Every second week, I will be based in one of the prisons, where I will be meeting with the male offenders, informing them about CGL, what we do, how we can help and generally answering any questions they have. Due to that role, the prison suggested that being key trained would benefit me, this involves 5 days of training and self defence.

Without volunteering I would not have had these opportunities, it is amazing being able to put everything we learn on our course at uni, into practice.

A Year On – The Bar Professional Training Course

Last year we published an article about celebrating the scholarship one of our students, Jake Edwards, won in order to complete the Bar Professional Training Course at Nottingham Trent University. We caught up with him to see how the course was and to tell us a little bit more about what it entails. 

I started the Bar Professional Training Course in September 2018 at Nottingham Trent University after receiving one of the Middle Temple Inn of Court Scholarships and the Nottingham Law School Dean’s BPTC Scholarship for Academic Excellence.

Before I enrolled on the BPTC I had to complete the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT). This test will not assess your legal knowledge, instead, it will test your ability to use reason and logic. The questions will test your ability to evaluate arguments, recognise assumptions and draw inferences.

On the BPTC I had to complete twelve exams, each assessing a different discipline necessary for legal practice as a barrister. These areas are criminal litigation (evidence and sentencing), civil litigation and remedies, professional ethics, drafting, opinion writing, resolution of disputes out of court (RDOC), conferencing, criminal advocacy (comprising of two assessments examination in chief and cross examination) and civil advocacy. You must then choose two optional modules, I took advanced criminal litigation and family law practice.

The course is very different from any undergraduate law course, the emphasis shifts away from academic research and legal theory. Instead, the focus is on practical skills. The assumption is that you now know the law, or at the very least you will inform yourself of what the law is. The sorts of issues you will face on a day to day basis will largely relate to evidence, procedure and advice.

During the BPTC, I attended twelve qualifying sessions at the Middle Temple, as this is required before you are eligible to be called to the bar. There are a wide range of sessions available including but not expressly limited to advocacy weekends at the Cumberland Lodge, mooting competitions, dining nights, music nights and lectures.

Whilst studying on the BPTC I worked as a County Court Advocate. In this role I have represented clients in court before District Judges across the Midlands on a range of issues including personal injury claims, RTA claims, infant approval hearings, debt recovery hearings, fitness to work cases, mortgage possession hearings and deposit protection hearings. In this capacity you are subject to the same code of ethics that governs barristers and you will frequently find yourself up against opponents who are themselves practicing barristers usually up to five years call.

The BPTC assesses your level of competency with the grading ranging from not competent to outstanding. In July, I received my BPTC results in which I was graded an outstanding overall. I am now waiting to be called to the bar at the Middle Temple in November (Michaelmas call). To be eligible for call you must have obtained at least a competent overall on the BPTC along with twelve qualifying sessions.

Congratulations for all of your hard work Jake!

Graduate Wins Scholarship for Bar Professional Training Course

Lauren Bicknell, a Graduate in LLB Law with a Foundation Year, has won a scholarship from Middle Temple to study the BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course).

“I am beyond delighted to share that I have been awarded the Jules Thorn Scholarship from Middle Temple to study the BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course) in Nottingham this September.

My path to the Bar has been somewhat unconventional. I finished my A-levels with less than desirable grades and only got in to University through Clearing. However, I have proved to myself that with resilience and determination, anything is achievable. I was exceptionally fortunate to have great mentors at Staffordshire University. Their unwavering support and guidance played an indispensable role in my success.

I am incredibly excited to begin this next chapter of my journey in becoming a barrister.”

Congratulations Lauren and all the best for the Bar Professional Training Course

Student Gains Paid Role After Volunteering in the Criminal Justice Sector

Kate Price, who will be going into her second year in the BA Criminal Justice with Offender Management degree in September, wrote a blog article for us last year about her experiences volunteering in Criminal Justice Sector. She is a proactive student and is now a paid staff member at CGL. She has written another blog post detailing the work involved and how you too can gain experience volunteering within the Criminal Justice sector, in custody and the community.

My Journey continues to grow…..

I previously wrote a blog and touched on how far I had come and what I had achieved in a short space of time, starting with applying to Staffordshire University in September 2018 after deciding I wanted to pursue my dream of working within the Criminal Justice sector both in custody and in the community, I was accepted on to the Criminal Justice with Offender Management Course to my delight and that was the beginning of fantastic things for me.

I decided to get some experience volunteering with offenders and ex-offenders through Change, Grow, Live (CGL – previously known as Sova), and after training I was given the opportunity to support service users at Probation, meet with individuals who needed support after being released from prison or fetch clients from prison on the day of their release and assist them with getting to their first probation meeting or to their home address/nearest train station, it was exactly the kind of experience I needed and it was a great insight. 8 months later I was informed that there was a job being advertised on the company website and that because I had been an active Volunteer I would be a good candidate, I was encouraged to apply for the role of Volunteer Coordinator, which I did…. And I was successful!! I am now a full time, paid staff member at CGL and I get to look after around 20 amazing Volunteers.

If you would like to become a volunteer please click on the link here and request an application pack as we are always in need, I would really like to encourage BOTH men and women to apply, we are in desperate need of some male volunteers if you know anybody that you think would like to join us please share our details.

What Are You Up to Now? Catching up with Law Alumni

We like to keep in touch with our alumni and hear about what they are doing since graduating. Jade Taylor studied the LLB Law with a Foundation Year degree with us as Staffordshire University and graduated in 2017. Since graduating, Jade has been a support Officer, Coordinator and volunteer in ares within the criminal justice system, including probation work, mentoring and children in care. She has written a guest piece for our blog about her experiences mentoring within the criminal justice system.

Jade Taylor graduated in 2017 with an LLB (Hons) in Law, taking the Foundation Year route.

August 2017 – July 2019 Volunteer Support Officer for CF03, SWM CRC, DLNR, Merseyside Circles

July 2019 – Promoted to Volunteer Coordinator for SWM CRC – Covering Probation Offices Birmingham Centre City and Wolverhampton Lever Street & Community Mentoring for both areas.

October 2018 – Present – Volunteer Independent Visitor for Black Country Independent Visitors (Children in the Care System)

In April 2016, I decided I needed to get some experience in the Criminal Justice System as I was studying a Law Degree at Staffordshire University. I investigated what would be the best opportunity for me and came across Sova/CGL. Going through recruitment I was nervous yet excited. I didn’t know what to expect or how I would deal with this line of work. After the second interview I was hoping and praying I would get the opportunity, and I did. I was over the moon!

Little did I know at the time it would be the best decision I ever made.

I became fully recruited in October 2016 and this is where my journey began. I started off volunteering in Stoke on Trent on the SWM CRC project doing community mentoring supporting service users of all different backgrounds and with all different support needs. I then got involved with Breach Court support at Birmingham Magistrates every Wednesday morning on my day off from university. This was an amazing experience and the support I could give to the individuals been given sentences was incredible. We would sign them up and give them that little glimpse of hope.

Alongside this I was then given the opportunity to mentor in HMYOI Brinsford. I took the opportunity with both hands and again enjoyed every minute. Supporting an individual in custody is daunting to begin with but then I soon realised it was the perfect opportunity to give that person a sense of hope, determination and courage for their release giving them all the vital tools to develop and grow in the community.
It is safe to say that as a volunteer the co-ordinators gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. Not only that but did they make me the person I am today from the beginning. They believed in me, they supported me and they enabled me to grow and develop with continuous training and guidance.

I loved volunteering with Sova/CGL that much I applied for a job with Sova/CGL as the Volunteer Support Officer 4 weeks after graduating in July 2017. Then an even bigger shock and an even better opportunity. I GOT THE JOB!!

I had the most rewarding job of recruiting volunteers and giving them the opportunity that I was given. I go to work happy and come home happy knowing I can do this for others. My work is more than just a job. I also still get to mentor the service users and I will quite happily make that time up! My colleagues are brilliant and I have made some great friendships along the way.

July 2019 came, a promotion opportunity came up. By chance I went for it thinking “what do I have to lose”. It was nerve-wracking but exciting. This is what I had longed for. Going through university thinking it would take years to get into a full time job that I was happy in and what I had studied so long for. I was successful for the post and I have now began my journey based in Probation supporting not only volunteers but assisting service users on license in there day to day struggles. Now that’s rewarding!
I also volunteer one Sunday every month on the Black Country Independent Visitor project where I get to make a difference to a young person’s life in the care system. Again, the most amazing opportunity to make a difference to somebody’s life and enjoy it at the same time.

The opportunities are endless and the volunteers we have are the bread and butter of what we do. I am proud of how far I have come as a volunteer now staff member, but most of all I am extremely proud of the volunteers I get to recruit. I get to watch them flourish into amazing mentors and to give them that rewarding experience is indescribable.

I am proud to be part of this organisation both as a volunteer and staff member and as I will say every day I am extremely proud and value all our amazing mentors on all the projects that we have and the journey I have been on since graduating!

Human Rights Law as a Control on the Exercise of Power in the UK

Naseem Khan, who graduated in July with an LLB (Hons) in Law, submitted his essay on Human Rights to E-International Relations and it has been published. 

The site states that it is ‘an open access website for students and scholars of international politics’.

Naz wrote the essay following the final-year module on Human Rights with Dr Damian Etone and Senior Lecturer Aidan Flynn. 

“The existence of human rights legislation is only as effective as the judicial institution that applies and interprets it.[6]  In the context of the ECHR, then, section 2 HRA 1998 sets out the obligation of the UK courts, requiring that they ‘take into account’ the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) when considering issues pertaining to ECHR rights.  Under section 3 HRA 1998, the courts must also ensure that domestic legislation is interpreted to ensure its compatibility with the ECHR, and may make a declaration of incompatibility if compatibility with the ECHR is not possible.  The core purpose of sections 2 and 3 HRA 1998 is to ensure that Parliament does not pass legislation that contravenes ECHR rights, and could, on this basis, be said to significantly strengthen the discretion of the courts when interpreting law.  However, there is no positive obligation imposed upon the courts to actually apply or follow ECtHR jurisprudence.[7]  They are instead expected to ‘ordinarily follow’ ECtHR decisions.[8] ” 

Congratulations Naz! You can access the full essay on the website here