Matt Hancock MP pledges zero tolerance of abuse of NHS Staff.

Ashley Reakes

In a speech to the Royal College of Nurses, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock laid out his reduction strategy for NHS staff violence. There has already been plans put in place to reduce this violence with the Assaults on Emergency Workers Act. The legislation imposes tougher sentences on people assaulting those working for the emergency services and the NHS. This legislation was supported by the Royal College of Nurses.

Mr Hancock hopes to form partnerships between the NHS, police forces, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Social Partnership Forum and the Royal College of Nurses, whereby incidents will be easily reportable, and all incidents will be taken seriously and investigated fully.

This data will then be used to identify high-risk jobs and areas. This will help to tailor the solutions to specific areas as a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not necessarily be useful.

Mr Hancock pointed out that paramedics face the greatest danger from drunk young men late at night on Fridays or Saturdays, whereas a mental health nurse may see incidents occur between 10 and 11 in the morning. For those patients with dementia, brain injuries or other mental health issues, prosecution might not always be appropriate. However, with better availability of data staff training and support can be improved.

In closing, Matt Hancock outlined his top three priorities for the future of the NHS: ensuring adequate time for rest and recovery; ensuring that there is somewhere to go or someone to talk to for help if needed and ensuring that the NHS has the most up-to-date technology available to cut workloads and make lives easier.

SULAC is providing free legal advice to staff members at Shrewsbury hospital. SULAC acknowledges the difficult issues face by the NHS. They often work long unsociable hours and can be on a low salary. Lack of access to justice is a problem faced by all our society and public sector workers also need our help. If you would like to make an appointment at one of our clinics, please call 01782 294800.

The Gender Pay Divide

Courtney James  

Under new regulations that came into force in April 2017, all employers with over 250 employees are required to report their gender pay gap data. The data has shown that more than three out of four UK companies pay their male staff more on average than their female staff and more than half gave a higher bonus to their male staff. The regulations have meant that Britain gender pay gap has fallen from 21.5% to 12.5%.


Gender pay gap in the media

Due to the new legislation, many companies that are in the public eye have come under scrutiny due to the pay gaps present. A publication of the BBC’s highest-earning presenters in July 2017 highlighted an imbalance between the number of the men and women at the top of the list. However, the differences did not end there, the top male presenter was Chris Evans whose salary fell somewhere between £2.2 and £2.25 million whereas the top female presenter was Claudia Winkleman who earnt a sum of between £450,000 and £500,000 in comparison. However, the BBC director Tony Hall has announced since that the BBC’s gender pay gap is one of the lowest in the media in the UK and has come down 20% since last year.

 What is the Government doing to help close the gender pay gap?

On the 1st August 2018 The Government Equalities Office published a new ‘What works’ guidance for companies which aims to help improve recruitment processes and the progression of women which in turn would help to close the gender pay gap internally.

 Its recommendations included assessing candidates based on the actual tasks that they would be expected to perform in their roles and encouraging salary negotiations by showing salary ranges. This was as a result of evidence that women are less likely to negotiate their pay than men.

 Staffordshire University has employment law experts. The legal advice clinic run by its law students can advise on all areas of employment law.

Is Marriage or a Civil Partnership Right for Me?

Martha Elliott-Smith


Following the recent Supreme Court ruling, heterosexual couples will now be able to enter into a civil partnership. Although the Government is yet to make a change to the legislation, it will grant many couples more rights than those who are cohabiting. For many couples, the thought of marriage does not bring about equality due to the traditional gender roles and religious vows. This change therefore allows greater freedom for those who do not want to participate in a ceremony and exchange vows, although they can do so if they wish.

So, what is the difference between a marriage and a civil partnership?

A civil partnership is created by the signing of a document which includes the signatures of both parents of the couple and the couple are then known as civil partners, but they cannot say they are married for legal reasons. A marriage requires a formal ceremony to take place with vows, whereas a civil partnership only requires that a document is signed. In terms of legal rights, a civil partnership affords a very similar position to marriage, for example, the rights are the same for inheritance, tax and pensions. However, it could be argued that globally, marriage is recognised in a whole host of countries and civil partnerships are only recognised in a few.

It appears that Scotland is also looking into this.

Here at the Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic, we can advise on family related issues.

Staffordshire University Legal Clinic Launch

Last night was the official launch of the Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC).

The event opened with refreshments at 5pm before an Official Welcome was given by Professor Ieuan Ellis, Pro Vice Chancellor.

Head of Law, Ruby Hammer, introduced the SULAC presentation, which was given by Tracey Horton – Law Clinic Manager – and Law Clinic students.

You can also read the coverage of the launch in the Stoke Sentinel here and Signal 1 Radio here

Tracey Horton explains that the “aim [of the Law Clinic] is to provide much needed support to vulnerable communities in Stoke on Trent and the region. As such, it represents a commitment to our strategy linked to Connected Communities and is representative of our values in being “Brilliant and Friendly” and “Proud to be Staffs”.

The Law Clinic has been launched at a time when the professional bodies are also gearing up to recognising time spent in placements/law clinics as counting towards the qualifying work experience required to become a solicitor. It therefore offers a unique opportunity to gain such experience and to practice lawyering and advice skills whilst at University. It directly enhances the employability and reputation of our law graduates.”

The legal advice is free and thirty-five students have been trained to work in the clinic; thirty three people have already signed up to the service.

The Legal Advice Clinic operates during term time at:

  • The Dudson Centre, Hanley, every Monday
  • Signpost, Stafford, every Tuesday
  • HMP Stafford, the first Friday of the month
  • Shrewsbury Hospital, the second Friday of the month

To book an appointment, call: 01782 294800



Law Student Gains Placement through Staffs Uni Mentoring Scheme

The Law Department’s Careers Tutor, Sallyann Mellor, runs a Staffordshire University Mentoring Scheme, which enables students to find out about placement opportunities to help them gain practical and hands-on experience. Law student, Naseem Khan discusses his experience whilst on placement at a solicitors that he found through the scheme. 

“Through the Staffordshire University Mentoring Scheme I gained a two-week placement with Knights 1759 Solicitors. Over the course [of the placement,] I was introduced to a range of solicitors and trainees from various fields of Law in different departments. This allowed me to gain a well-rounded insight into not only the working[s] of the legal team, but the role of a solicitor. I worked on administrative tasks, case studies, and was given the opportunity to meet the clients and attend court! My colleagues assisted me in so many ways, for example, on the first day one of the solicitors gave me a ‘life lecture’ on how not to give up no matter what.

It was such a valuable experience to be able to know what it actually feels like to be working in a Legal environment and to realise how the environment of a corporate law firm differs from those on the high street.

Overall, my experience was enjoyable while also being very educational. Through a wide variety of tasks I was able to appreciate all aspects of the job and was definitely not just stuck at a desk!

Naseem Khan

Now I know exactly what I want to be in the future and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Knights 1759 and our Careers Tutor Sallyann Mellor for implementing the Staffordshire University Mentoring Scheme and for giving me the opportunity.”


LLB Student Gains Bar Experience at Mini-Puppilage

At the beginning of May, LLB Law student,  Lauren Pritchard spent a week at 25 Bedford Row on a mini-piupillage, in order to gain  practical experience in advocacy and at the Bar. 

25 Bedford Row are a specialist Criminal Defence set of Chambers

Tuesday 1st May
On my first day I travelled to Snaresbrook Crown Court to accompany Abi, who had two matters to deal with.

The first was regarding an appeal from the Magistrates Court of a common assault sentence. Her defence was impeccable and she managed to argue a suspended custodial sentence down to a mere fine.

She invited me out and treated me to lunch, where we got to know each other more and she was able to give me some invaluable insight and advice about life as a young woman at the Bar. She also shared that she campaigns for diversity, via public speaking and social media.

In the afternoon, a case regarding a young couple where a stab wound had been inflicted was adjourned until a later date. This helped me to understand the level of information that is needed before you can properly represent a client in court and that some matters need to be held off under further information is gathered; in this case, they were awaiting a specialist to inspect if the wound was self-inflicted.

Wednesday 2nd May
During the first half of the day I joined Monica Stevenson in a historic sexual abuse case, where a man had molested his niece many years ago. I learned that these sorts of cases are very popular due to change in social attitudes, meaning that more than ever people are speaking out and getting justice for historic matters that may previously not have been considered. This case was adjourned until a later date.

Wednesday afternoon I joined Chester Beyts for a trial regarding four separate counts, including false imprisonment and grievous bodily harm. The trial continued over until the end of Thursday.

I witnessed the trial from beginning to end, was permitted access to the cells speaking to various defendants [and the] advocates lounge, which allowed me to network, as well as sitting next to Chester during the course of his advocacy. I got to witness a jury getting sworn in and counter arguments from both Chester and the Crown Prosecution Service. I also got to read the case bundle, being shown how to research relevant statute and case law, as well as court procedure and protocol.

This experience was very insightful, it put academic studies into practice and allowed me to meet the defendant behind the crime, his background and how he was portrayed by the court.

Chester was by far the most memorable barrister I worked with. He went above and beyond to teach me as much as he could about practicing at the Bar: from how a case is put together […] with basic procedures/traditions, to general friendly advice about attitudes and conduct when applying. He took me out and treated me to lunch and we have exchanged e-mail and numbers, inviting me to ask any further questions/advice at any time which is extremely helpful for the future.

Thursday 3rd May
Thursday morning I joined Laura Collier and Alex Jamieson, whilst waiting for the previous over-running trial to finish, so Chester’s could formally begin.
Laura was defending an appeal concerning a traffic offence, however this was adjourned as they were awaiting further evidence.

Following this, I accompanied Alex who was defending a young man who had stabbed someone. This hearing was Alex’s mitigation to the judge: some points included his age and background. This is then taken into consideration by the judge which may lessen the defendant’s sentence. This was an extremely good demonstration of advocacy.
Throughout the afternoon I re-joined Chester for the remainder of the trial. Unfortunately, due to lack of witness correspondence, this case was chucked out and no further action was taken.

Friday 4th May
During my final day at Inner London Crown Court, I had an amazing opportunity to witness true advocacy.

This case was regarding a multi-defendant trial where three defendants were being tried. Co-defence barristers, Alex and Emma, were presenting their closing speeches to the jury.

Each speech is approximately 40 minutes long [and] sums up each defendants whole defence in attempt to lure the jury to find them not guilty.
I had never witnessed this before and it gave me a true taster of how important the way a barrister presents the case [impacts] some[one’s] sentence.

I send my most sincere thanks to the sponsor who has allowed me to attend this amazing opportunity, which I otherwise would not have had the means to attend.
This opportunity was truly invaluable to me in terms of the experience I will need in order to be considered in such a competitive field, ultimately making me stand out and become more employable when applying for full pupillage and tenancy.

I have been able to network which allows me to gain further opportunities and contacts for my future career. Mostly, it has confirmed my aspiration to work as a barrister, making me ever more determined to thrive. I have since joined the Honourable Society of Middle Temple and intend to start my application to the Bar Professional Training Course in December.

Third Year Law Student Awarded Scholarship

Jake Edwards, who is reading law at Staffordshire University, has been awarded a named scholarship by the Middle Temple Inn of Court in London.

Jake applied for a scholarship for funding towards his Bar Professional Training Course in November 2017 and underwent a rigorous interview in London, in April this year. He excelled in all of his level six modules and still found time to prepare for the scholarship process by working with barristers from all over the country. Jake took part in a session held in the Law School in March to provide other students with tips and hints to achieve the dream on putting on the wig and gown.



A representative from the Middle Temple contacted Jake on Thursday 10th May to let him know that he had been awarded the State School Scholarship. This named award is awarded to a state-school educated candidate. Despite its name, this is a prestigious award and will look amazing on Jake’s CV for the future.

Jake was thrilled to pieces that all of his study and preparation had payed off. Jake commented: “I had some great lecturers and help along the way. I want to say a particular thank you to Gill Davenport who taught me the skill of mooting as this has really helped me. I also want to thank my personal tutor Keith Wharton for always believing in me.”

Jake follows a number of other successful Staffordshire University Law students who have been awarded top flight scholarships over the last three years. Last month Anthony Miller won the Lord Denning Scholarship from Lincoln’s Inn. In 2017 Arpan Bedi was awarded the Harmsworth Scholarship again from the Middle Temple. Law School lecturer and mooting specialist Gill Davenport commented: “Jake was an outstanding student on my level six mooting module this year. Our students keep winning scholarships; hopefully there is a pattern here!”



Law Alumni Present Research Findings at HMP Stafford

Lecturer Tawney Bennett and Alumnus Amber Mapledoram presented their research findings to senior management at HMP Stafford on the 25th April.

Lecturer, Tawney Bennett (left) and Amber Mapledoram (right)

Their research consisted of an empirical and largely qualitative analysis of the prisoner complaints system, through distributing questionnaires and carrying out in-depth interviews with prisoners.

The researchers conducted their investigation through a prisoner-oriented lens, focusing on the prisoners’ perceptions, experiences and feelings regarding the complaints process.

Alumnus Amber Mapledoram

Their research spanned approximately 10 months and resulted in practical recommendations being proposed to senior management, to implement into the future practice of the prison and promote positive change. The suggested implementations were created with an emphasis on the importance of procedural justice and treating prisoners with fairness and respect.

The recommendations were well received by the prison management team and they expressed a keen desire to maintain the blossoming partnership with Staffordshire University.

Alumnus and Lecturer Tawney Bennett

Future research projects have been organised with the Deputy Governor of HMP Stafford, offering Staffordshire University students an insightful and invaluable opportunity to implement change in the Criminal Justice System.

Inside HMP Dovegate

On Thursday April 12, Level 6 Criminal Justice and Punishment students were given the opportunity to have a guided tour of HMP Dovegate. Charlie Lovatt, LLB (Hons) Law student, has written about the visit.

Upon our arrival, we had an introductory talk with some of the prison staff where we were able to ask questions about the problems they faced within the prison, such as the violence and the drugs, and how the staff dealt with these problems. We were given demonstrations of how easy it is for prisoners to make homemade weapons and how they can use common household items, such as teabags and bath salts, as alternatives to drugs.

One of the most recent developments we learned was that prison staff were now allowed to carry batons with them around the prison. However, staff are only allowed to use them as a last resort in extremely dangerous situations and simply drawing the baton, even if you do not use it, is still a massive issue and requires a lot of paperwork. Statistically speaking however, HMP Dovegate is one of the safest prisons in England and Wales.

We were then taken to the main prison where we were searched for any contraband before being allowed through. Our tour took us into the Therapeutic Community (TC) part of the prison. The TC can comfortably hold 200 repeat serious offenders, all of whom have proven to a panel of judges that they are willing to change their offending behaviour, address their issues in group therapy sessions and take responsibility for their crimes. Dovegate is one of two prisons in the UK to have a TC facility. The first thing that struck students about the TC was how relaxed and comfortable an atmosphere it gave off. Prisoners had plenty to keep them entertained including a pool table, table tennis, a dining area, a communal garden where they could exercise and even a giant chess set.

We were then given the opportunity to talk to some prisoners about their time in prison and share lunch with them. This was a very eye-opening and thought-provoking experience. The consensus among the students was that it was very surreal to hear the prisoners talk about their stories in such a calm and open manner. Students also said it was not at all what they expected and were shocked at how “normal” the prisoners looked and behaved. It became apparent from their stories, that the biggest issues that they faced in their time in prison were gangs and NPS (new psychoactive substances), which are man-made drugs such as Spice or Black Mamba. However, they said that the TC at Dovegate helped them overcome their addictions, and the prisoners showed a good self-awareness of their issues. Students all seemed to reach the same conclusion that TCs were beneficial to the prisoner’s rehabilitation.

The rest of the tour comprised of exploring the prisons’ work environments and recreational activities, such as horticulture and pottery classes. The TC also had educational facilities including an IT room which was akin to a high school IT classroom, with posters around the room explaining the basics of programmes such as Microsoft Word or Excel. This of course is because many of the prisoners will lack basic IT skills and so it is reassuring that the TC recognises the need to educate them, which will hopefully improve their career prospects for when the prisoners are released.

In conclusion, the trip to HMP Dovegate provided students with valuable insight into the prison estate and with first-hand accounts of what the prison life is like. Staff and prisoners alike were very helpful and were willing to answer any questions we had. Not only did the visit prove useful in an academic sense, but I believe there are now some students, myself included, who are seriously considering the prison industry as a viable career option. On behalf of the students, I would like to thank Louis Martin, David Simmonds, the Law School and the staff and prisoners at HMP Dovegate for giving us this rare and privileged opportunity.