Welcome to the School of Law, Policing and Forensics

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The School of Law, Policing and Forensics at Staffordshire University offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Law, Policing and Criminal Investigation, Professional Policing, Criminology, Criminal International Relations,Security and Intelligence, Forensic Science and Forensic Investigation, and Forensic Archaeology and Genocide 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.

We also deliver the Police Apprenticeships with Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and West Mercia Police.

International Women’s Day: Women in policing – the power to empower

Dr Sarah Jane Fox, who has recently joined Staffordshire University’s Institute of Policing, has written a piece for Policing Insight to honour the role that women play in policing. 

The article highlights the key role that women already play in policing and the efforts to address the gender imbalance in police services around the globe, as well as in wider society.

Sarah said: “In 2018 I was fortunate to be part of an international policing event which was had good representation from female officers. However, it was very clear that some nations were further behind than even my early experiences from the 1980s in terms of equality and opportunities afforded to these officers.

“As part of my degree developments, I’m looking to ensure that with the new Policing Education Qualification Framework (PEQF), that no one is left behind in terms of equality and opportunities – this includes serving and experienced officers. I wrote one of the first Top-Up’s in the UK and I am looking to use my expertise to develop programmes within the IoP.

You can read Dr Sarah Jane Fox’s full article on the Policing Insight website.

Discrimination Against Pregnant Women in the Workplace

Millie Parkes (Student)

It has become a well-known fact that the United Kingdom is suffering hardship in many sectors, but the threat of job-loss and redundancy for pregnant and women with young children is widely increasing.

Joeli Brearley, founder of the charity Pregnant Then Screwed, has recently said that the pandemic has caused a surge of discrimination against pregnant women and mothers at work.

The Law

The main law which should prevent such discrimination is The Equality Act 2010.

For pregnant women specifically, the Act states that it is unlawful to be discriminated against for being pregnant or suffering a pregnancy-related illness. If you are it may mean that you can take your employer to a tribunal.

Protection from Discrimination as a Pregnant Woman (and After!)

From the time that you become pregnant until when your maternity leave ends (if eligible) or two weeks after you child was born (if not eligible), there is a protection period. This protection period protects you against discrimination within the workplace.

Even after giving birth and returning to work, if you have been treated unfavourably after this, you could still be protected against discrimination because of your sex.

Similarly, it is unlawful to discriminate against you for:

  • Being on maternity leave
  • Having been on maternity leave
  • Trying to take maternity leave, which you are entitled to.

Reversing the Progress During the Pandemic

Brearley highlighted that 15% of mothers and pregnant women (in a survey of 20,000 mothers) have been made redundant or expected to be, during the pandemic. This is said to be reversing the progress of an increase in maternal employment by 9% in the last 20 years.

Brearley’s charity ‘Pregnant Then Screwed’ also emphasised that prior to the pandemic, they would provide legal advice to around 3,000 women per year, who were experiencing pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace. Since the pandemic, they have provided legal advice to over 32,000 women – an almost 1000% increase.

The Women’s Budget Group also explains their findings for women to have been discriminated against more-so throughout the pandemic compared to their spouses, by finding that ‘ Of those furloughed, mothers were more likely to be put on furlough to look after their children (27%) than fathers (23%) and One in five mothers were made redundant or lost hours because of caring responsibilities, compared to 13% of fathers.

Traditional stereotyping

Brearley added that ‘there are deeply entrenched gender stereotypes that mean women blame themselves when they get pregnant and get pushed out of their jobs.’ This basic sexism is all too clear according to the British Social Attitudes Survey, which highlighted that one in five people think women with child under school age should stay at home.

However, it is hoped that  the pandemic has brought some positive changes to families, with some fathers being able to spend more time caring for their children than before March 2020. The Fawcett Society have stated that if this became the norm, it could reduce the ‘motherhood pay penalty’ and help aid maternal and pregnancy employment within the workplace.

At Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC) we offer free legal advice on Equality and Discrimination related matters. If you wish to book an appointment with us call 01782 294 800 or alternatively email SULAC@staffs.ac.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Possession suspensions ‘put neighbours at risk’

Lucy Cooper (Student)

The pandemic has been very hard for many people, some of whom have lost their jobs, aren’t receiving the same income as they used to or are simply struggling with their mental health. To help people who may not be able to afford their rent the government put into place an eviction ban meaning that people could not be evicted, during the pandemic. 

Whilst this has clearly helped some people, some law firms have highlighted the problem this has caused for people who are suffering with anti-social behaviour from their neighbours. Housing Associations have reported that due to the ban on possession action they have not been able to take any action against tenants who were being anti-social, which was having a huge impact on the neighbours and other tenants. One property owner explained that he had experienced significant antisocial behaviour from a neighbour and he has now lost two tenants because of this.  

The stay on possession proceedings was lifted in September of last year, meaning that many solicitors saw the opportunity to sort the anti-social behaviour out and began to use what they called the ‘last resort’ to evict the tenants after giving them multiple warnings and chances to change their actions. 

Solicitors have stressed their concerns about the rise in anti-social behaviour during lockdown and what impact it is having on other people, in a situation which is already mentally challenging. It can have a catastrophic effect on the people who have to endure these issues ever day on top of trying to cope with a global pandemic, some people have been spat on by neighbours, during the pandemic, causing them to have a mental breakdown. 

Solicitors have stressed that there needs to be focus on this by the government as anti-social tenants can seriously impact their local community.

What can people do in the meantime? 

If you are someone who is experiencing anti-social behaviour it is initially best to try and speak to the neighbour (provided it is safe to do so). If this does not help, then keep a diary of all the issues that you have encountered so that if court proceedings are necessary you will be able to show a clearly logged diary of what has happened. 

The next step would be report the problem to the council, it may then be possible for the council or the police to meet with the person who is causing the problem and speak to them and help them come to an agreement about how they should change their behaviour. This agreement can then be put into writing. This is known as an acceptable behaviour contract.

Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic Offers free legal advice on all housing issues. If you would like an appointment please call 01782 294458 or emails SULAC@staffs.ac.uk

 

Is Staying Home Protecting Everyone?

Shivam Kaushik (Student)

The government has implemented measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19 since March 2020. Since then, there have been lockdowns, closures of non-essential businesses and a very strong message from government to remain at home unless absolutely essential. The advertisement for this is “Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives” and this message is broadcast everywhere on government pages, posters and on several official media platforms. During such  time, having a safe place to call home is critical especially when being at home is more important and one is home more now than ever.

Support services are struggling to provide help and resources to those struggling in their households. The restrictions on leaving home result in further barriers in seeking help and reporting any abuse. Gender based violence (“GBV”)has increased. The UN defines gender based violence as as harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender. There has been a sharp rise in the prevalence of such abuse in recent times and has been compounded further by lockdown measures. GBV mainly relates to interpersonal violence, domestic abuse, sexual violence and other forms of abuse. In the UK, 1 in 4 women experience domestic abuse and 1 in 5 will experience sexual assault in her lifetime. GBV does not because of lockdown, nor does it stem from the stress, hardship and economic difficulties which arise from the existence of a pandemic, however, the pandemic and lockdown measures have increased the risk factors for GBV such as substance abuse, being unable to support one’s family, crowding and female isolation.

Services supporting victims of gender-based violence are reporting an unprecedented increase in demand for support and assistance. Domestic abuse charity, Refuge, have reported a 700% increase in contact compared to pre-lockdown levels. Similarly, the Respect phone line has reported a rise of 125% in web traffic and a 16.6% increase in number of calls received. Even during stable periods, GBV is under-reported in the UK. The Home Office found that 83% of victims do not report their experiences to the police. The reporting of such experiences will be further decreased during the pandemic.

 These are very concerning statistics that highlight the scale and urgency of these issues and their impact on the most vulnerable members of society. The added difficulty in reporting abuse and seeking assistance during lockdown is leading to many abusers escaping accountability and punishment. More importantly, it has further eroded the ability for victims and survivors to seek immediate protection for themselves and their children. Access to justice is one of the biggest issues faced by victims of GBV and the government measures have only compounded such difficulties. The continuation of such measures will only worsen the impact the pandemic has had on GBV victims and survivors. The government measures as a result of the pandemic have raised the question whether staying home is truly saving lives and at what cost?

If you have experienced any of these issues and require more advice at Staffordshire Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC) we offer free legal advice. Students are supervised by a qualified solicitor, if you wish to book an appointment with us, then please either call us on 01782 294800 or email us at SULAC@staffs.ac.uk. 

 

Boris Johnson may soon have the power to call elections whenever he wants – a legal view on why that’s not a good idea

“Legislation is currently making its way through the UK parliament to repeal the controversial fixed-term parliaments act, which sets the period between general elections at five years and limits the prime minister’s power to trigger an election earlier.

An earlier election is possible if two thirds of MPs vote for it or if the government loses a vote of confidence among MPs.” Find out more with Law Lecturer, Dr John McGarry’s article on The Conversation, here.

Policing and Forensics – Careers and Employability Event a Great Success

Wednesday 10th February saw around 70 students joining academics, alumni, police professionals and university careers staff on MS Teams to raise awareness and better equip students for applying for roles in policing and the wider forensics jobs market.

The event was borne out of conversations with police specialists who felt that former students applying for roles within Police Forensics weren’t giving themselves the best chance of being selected for interview.

The event was organised by Dean Northfield, the School of Law, Policing and Forensics Placement Coordinator, and Martyn Hordern, the Staffordshire Forensic Partnership Coordinator, with initial discussions taking place last autumn before the current lockdown.

Undeterred, an MS Team’s event was arranged and speakers were gathered to assist in as many ways as possible. The event saw two former students giving their thoughts on police and private role applications, a former Police Assistant Chief Constable demystifying the police application form and a current police Digital Forensic Coordinator giving his guidance and advice. Also present were police recruitment specialists, and specialists from the Institute of Policing and the University Careers Relationship team, supported by a student Careers Coach.

Vicky Cook from the University’s Careers Relationship team talked about students’ online presence and said “if you wouldn’t want your gran to see it don’t put it online”, emphasising that prospective employers will check what potential employees are doing online.

Former students Becky Teague and Kira Low gave their experiences as graduates from 2020. Becky had also been a police Special Constable and was now working with a private digital forensics company. Kira meanwhile works for Norfolk Constabulary in their Digital Forensics Unit. Both gave some insightful advice from the differing application processes used to prepare yourself whilst still at University.

Ian Ackerley, Course Leader for Policing and Criminal Investigation and a former Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) with Staffordshire Police, shared some helpful tips and advice on how to turn a good application into a very good one, whilst at the same time preventing a very good application becoming just an adequate one.

Adam Newbery from Staffordshire Police’s Digital Forensics Unit gave some insight into finding Police roles, preparing yourself, having a career plan and how to sell yourself in the application form.

The day concluded with Dionne Johnson (from the Staffordshire Police’s Recruiting Team) sharing police career advice, including the STEP IN process to assist potential applicants, and Bethany Hepher from the Institute of Policing, who talked about the PCDA and DHEP (Police Apprenticeship) routes into being a Police Officer.

Martyn Hordern said “I am sure that each and everyone of [our guests] will have helped those on the call to be better prepared to apply for and hopefully get roles within forensics, policing, or similar”.

Dean Northfield said after the event, “we are really passionate about employability skills and it was refreshing that so many common themes went through each presentation”. He added that it was hoped for such an event to become a fixture going forward.

 

 

Set in Clay: The Journal of International Relations, History and Politics

Each year our students on the International Studies courses publish an online journal, showcasing the finest undergraduate and postgraduate coursework submitted.

Set in Clay is the result of a four-week-long project to peer review, curate and publish an online journal as part of the university’s Get Ahead programme, since 2019.

Set in Clay Volume 1 (June 2019)

The first volume contains work categorised into topics about ‘Britain and the End of Empire’, ‘Intelligence’, ‘Consumer Society’, ‘Modern Italy’, ‘Refugees and Immigrants’, ‘Political Thought’, ‘International Relations’ and the ‘USA, 1776-present’. 

View Volume 1 here.

Set in Clay Volume 2 (June 2020)

The second volume includes two undergraduate dissertations on ‘Feminism and the Irish Revolution’ and ‘Globalisation and Neo-Nationalism in the Global North-West’, as well as various topics categorised from modules covered on the degree: such as the ‘French Revolution’, ‘India and Pakistan’, ‘International Society’, ‘Ireland’, ‘Intelligence and International Relations’, ‘The Soviet Union’ and ‘Presenting the past’.

There is also postgraduate work ranging from ‘The Myth of the “First Great Debate” ‘, ‘How actively does China now engage in multilateral diplomacy’ and ‘In what ways can new technology change the practices of diplomacy?’. 

This issue also contains a COVID-19 Pandemic Special on how the Coronavirus has impacted students and staff in 202

View Volume 2 here.

Set in Clay, June 2019 Committee

Follow the @setinclay Facebook page here

Gender Equality in the Workplace

Charmaine Watkins (Student)  

The Law 

In 2010, the Equality Act was introduced to legally protect people from being discriminated against in the workplace as well as in the wider society. This Act replaced the previous Laws on Anti-discrimination with one Act. In the UK, there are 9 protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. These are: 

  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Disability 
  • Religion or belief
  • Age 
  • Sexual orientation 
  • Sex
  • Gender reassignment
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Marriage and civil partnership

The Act provides a framework to protect against direct and indirect discrimination as a result of one of these characteristics. 

Direct discrimination is when someone is treated unfairly because of one of the characteristics, whereas indirect discrimination happens when there are rules or arrangements that apply to a group of employee causing them a disadvantage because of one of the characteristics. 

The impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic  

The Fawcett Society has indicated that Covid-19 has had a ‘devastating’ impact on gender equality in the workplace.

The Society said that women are more likely to lose work or be burdened with childcare during the crisis then men, and during the pandemic out of 8400 people surveyed, a third of working women reported a loss of work or hours. 

The Fawcett society stated that there is a danger that the gender pay gap (the average difference in pay between men and women) may widen as a result. This has been described as a coronavirus crossroads which may impact the progress of workplace equality for years. 

The UK government has said they are “committed to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to progress in the workplace”.

However, it is hoped that the pandemic could have brought some positive changes. Some fathers have said that they now spend twice as much time caring for their children then before March 2020. The Fawcett Society have stated that if this became the norm, it could reduce the “motherhood pay penalty” and curb the gender pay gap. 

At Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC) we offer free legal advice on Equality and Discrimination related matters. If you wish to book an appointment with us call 01782 294 800 or alternatively email SULAC@staffs.ac.uk 

 

International Book Giving Day

The 14th February is not only Valentine’s Day, it is also International Book Giving Day. The day is a volunteer initiative aimed at increasing access to books. We asked staff to suggest some books from their subject areas (both fiction and non-fiction) that they enjoyed reading and that others may find interesting.

 

 

Blue: A memoir: Keeping the Piece and Falling to Pieces by John Sutherland

Suggested by: Dr Lauren Metcalfe, Policing Course Director

 

 

 

 

 

Court Number One: The Old Bailey Trials that Defined Modern Britain by Thomas Grant

Suggested by: Jo Beswick, Law Lecturer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crossing the line: Lessons from a Life on Duty by John Sutherland

Suggested by: Dr Lauren Metcalfe, Policing Course Director

 

 

 

 

I am Pilgrim: Can You Commit the Perfect Crime by Terry Hayes

Suggested by: Dr Fran Stubbs-Hayes, Forensics Lecturer

 

 

 

 

In Spies We Trust: The Story of Western Intelligence by Rhodri Jefreys-Jones

Suggested by: Associate Professor Tony Craig, Lecturer in International Studies

 

 

 

 

 

In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law by Sarah Langford

Suggested by: Jo Beswick, Law Lecturer

 

 

 

 

Isis: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J.M Berger

Suggested by: Aman Jaswal, PhD Researcher

 

 

 

 

 

 

On The Farm: Robert Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancourver’s Missing Women by Stevie Cameron

Suggested by: Emma Tilley, Policing Lecturer for the Institute of Policing

 

 

 

Police Socialisation, Identity and Culture: Becoming Blue by Sarah Chapman

Suggested by: Dr Lauren Metcalfe, Policing Course Director

 

 

 

 

 

Research Ethics: In the Real World by Helen Kara

Suggested by: Sarah Page, Criminology Lecturer

 

 

 

 

Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken by The Secret Barrister

Fake Law: The Truth About Justice in an Age of Lies by The Secret Barrister

Suggested by: Dr John McGarry, Law Lecturer

 

 

 

Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime by Val McDermid

Suggested by: Professor Graham Williams, Forensics Lecturer

 

 

 

 

 

The Cyber Effect by Mary Aiken

Suggested by: Abbeygail Standen, Policing Lecturer for the Institute of Policing

 

 

 

 

 

When the Dogs Don’t Bark: A Forensic Scientist’s Search for the Truth by Angela Gallop

Suggested by: Professor Graham Williams, Forensics Lecturer

Wills and Covid

Charmaine Watkins (Student) 

For a Will to be valid there are three main requirements, as set out in the Wills Act 1937, these are: 

  • It must be in writing
  • Signed by the testator, who is over 18
  • Witnessed by two witnesses, who are over 18, in the presence of the testator

Creating a will is important for protecting your assets including property, money and sentimental objects. A will is a legal document that ensures your wishes are fulfilled.  

However, Covid changed this. In September 2020 a statutory instrument was introduced to allow for wills to be witnessed virtually. This allows the will to be sent to the various parties and witnessed using a virtual platform such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. This allows for wills to be executed even during lockdown. 

However, according to the government guidance on video-witnessed wills,virtual witnessing should be the last resort and people should attempt to arrange for physical witnessing of wills where it is safe to do so. 

A spokesman from the ministry of justice has stated; ‘We know the pandemic has made it more difficult to make a will. That’s why we are changing the law to ensure video-witnessed wills are legally recognised. These changes will give peace of mind to many that their last wishes can still be recorded while maintaining all the existing safeguards against fraud or disputes.’ 

Simon Davis the Law society president has welcomed this decision however has said that solicitors will need the correct training to ensure this is done correctly. And that in the long term, wider reforms for the wills Act will be needed to bring it into the 21st century.  

There has however, been more recent criticism with this reform, probate specialists have called it ‘pretty unattractive’ as the remote system can cause delays because the will has to be physically signed by three people, the testator and the two witnesses, who can be all over the country, who will need the will to be posted to each member to be signed which will cause a delay between each signature.  

She also added that there are issues with ensuring the testator has capacity and is not acting under undue influence as well as making sure the client is correctly identified.  

At Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC) we offer free legal advice on probate matters (although we do not draft wills). If you wish to book an appointment call us on 01782 294 800 or alternately email us at SULAC@staffs.ac.uk