Vulnerable teenager housed in a tent by council

Qadir Mohammed -Student

A vulnerable teenager had to be hospitalised after being housed in a tent by Cornwall Council.

The 17-year-old approached the council for help after his relationship with his family broke down and he moved to another town. The teenager had a history of drug use and also had mental health issues.

The council offered him a place to live 30 miles away from the area he knew which he refused. He spent time sleeping rough until eventually he was provided with a tent by the local authority.

The council ended up replacing the first tent with another after it started leaking. The 17-year-old told the BBC that “It was a pretty traumatic experience for me because I’ve always lived in a house somewhere. They should have done so much more. They should have put me somewhere with a roof over my head”.

Due to the council’s repeated failures, this boy became emaciated and he was eventually taken into a psychiatric hospital after he was sexually assaulted. The boy clearly had behavioural and mental health problems, but these made him all the more vulnerable.

The council should have carried out an investigation if they had “‘reasonable cause to suspect that a child who lives, or is found, in their area is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm”. The council should have assessed the needs of the child and the ability of those who currently cared for him. The parents should have also been interviewed by the council as well to get more information into the boy’s scenario. That clearly didn’t happen in this situation.

Staffordshire University’s Legal Advice Clinic can advise on family and housing matters. Please call 01782 294800 for an appointment.

The major source of ocean plastic pollution you’ve probably never heard of

Nurdles: the not-so-cute Mermaid Tears of the ocean

” ‘Nurdles’ are the building blocks for most plastic goods, from single-use water bottles to televison sets. These small pellets – normally between 1mm and 5mm – are classed as a primary microplastic alongside the microbeads used in cosmetic products – they’re small on purpose, as opposed to other microplastics that break off from larger plastic waste in the ocean.”

Associate Professor, Dr Claire Gwinnett explains on The Conversation here.  

Brexit: what the army could legally do to maintain public order if needed

“The prospect of a no-deal Brexit has led to some dystopian predictions about what might happen if the UK leaves the EU without a transition plan in place on March 29.

Several newspapers with differing stances on Brexit reported on the potential for military deployment to help maintain public order.

Whether this is rooted in genuine concern or political alarmism, it’s true that the military can legally be called in to help in certain circumstances. And at times of crisis, it’s common for some to call for military deployment.” 

Professor James Treadwell, from Staffordshire University, and John Lamb, from Birmingham City University, explore on The Conversation

France To Pass Law Stopping Parents From Smacking Children

By Peche Agbasonu Student

It has been reported 85% of adults are hitting their children to discipline them according to the Childhood Foundation which is a French non-government organisation.

French  MPs have voted to outlaw corporal punishment in a bid to ensure that parents do not abuse their power.  The report calls into question how effective the punishment is on the children and suggests that it will not change the behaviour of the child.

A study in 2016 was conducted by the University of Texas and the University of Michigan on physical punishment of children which concluded that smacking could lead to lower cognitive ability, mental health problems and a risk of normalising physical abuse later in their life.

If the bill is adopted France’s civil code will be adjusted to state that parents should not resort to “physical, verbal or physiological violence, nor to corporal punishment or humiliation” when disciplining their children.

On 30th November MPs voted 51-1 in favour of the change in the law.

In England it is against the law for a parent or carer to smack their child, except where this amounts to “reasonable punishment”. “Reasonable punishment” is not defined in the legislation. Scotland is expected to outlaw the “reasonable punishment” defence in 2019, and Wales is considering it.

Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic provides free legal advice on all areas of family law. Please call 01782 294800 for an appointment.


A Call for No Fault Divorce

Zaen Ramzan- Student Advisor

The process of filing for divorce may seem easy. You file an application and the divorce is granted. However, a recent case suggests otherwise. In the case of Owens V Owens [2018] the Court ordered that the wife must remain in the marriage against her will. Despite Mrs Owen alleging that the marriage was “loveless and unhappy” the Court refused her a divorce. The judge alleged that the allegations made by Mrs. Owens were only “minor allegations of the kind to be expected in marriage.”

Currently you can apply for a divorce if your partner has committed adultery or has behaved unreasonably. If you cannot prove these grounds then you can only obtain a divorce, after two years separation if your spouse agrees. If he/she does not agree you must wait 5 years.

The Owens case has resulted in people calling for a change in the law and the introduction of a “no-fault” divorce. It seems archaic to make someone remain married if the relationship has broken down.

Here at SULAC, we can help with issues relating to family law and divorce. Our team of final year law students will carry out research about your problem and provide a letter of advice that is checked by a qualified solicitor. If you require free legal advice, please call 01782 294800 for an appointment.

Record fall in number of workers from eastern Europe in UK

Sukhjeet Sodhi

Figures have shown that in the countdown to Brexit, the UK has seen its first sharp fall in European workers since records began over two decades ago. Figures show a drop in 132,000 workers in the last year from eight European countries, which was unforeseen despite global employment increasing by 34,000. National employment grew by 23,000 between June and September from 4% to 4.1%.

This comes after the flash referendum which saw a 52% majority vote for Britain to leave the European Union (EU). This demonstrates the shockwaves that have struck the nation since plans were announced to leave the EU within the two-year window. This comes as no surprise due to the repercussions on the possible restriction of the free movement of people, goods and workers.

Employers are warning that there will now be a shortage of skilled workers which will have a significant negative effect on the economy. This is also putting an upward pressure on wages which can only be bad for UK businesses.

It is likely that the effects of leaving the EU will continue to surface for many years. It is essential for an adequate deal to be reached to reduce this negative impact upon UK businesses and for the economy.

If you are experiencing any employment issues and have nowhere else to turn, please contact the Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC) on 01782 294800. We can advise on employment issues or refer you to other organisations who may be able to assist.

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.”


Policing Graduate Joins Cheshire Constabulary

At the start of October, BSc Policing and Criminal Investigation graduate, Jack Colton, shared the fantastic news about his new job with Cheshire Constabulary. 

“I started employment as Communications Operator in the Force Control Centre at Cheshire Constabulary.

Some of the equipment our students use to gain practical, hands-on experience 

I’d just like to say that these past 3 weeks of training have demonstrated just how appropriate and effective the content of the course was. I’m in a position where I am familiar with most things being covered in terms of law; whereas other graduates from criminology courses are not.

Visitors at the Crime Scene House on an Offer Holder Day

I’d also like to say a big thank you to the all the staff that organised the content of the course and delivered the lectures. It’s only just become obvious how suitable and useful the content learnt is now that I can apply it to my work.”

BSc Policing and Criminal Investigation Course Leader

Congratulations Jack!