Staffs Uni Wins ‘Best Collaboration between a University and Employer’ Award with Staffs Police

Friday evening at the National Undergraduate Employability Awards (NUE),in collaboration with Staffordshire Police, Staffordshire University won the award for ‘Best Collaboration between a University and Employer’ for the Staffordshire Forensic Partnership

Dr John Wheeler, The Associate Dean of Students for the School of Law, Policing and Forensics, said “this is a fantastic achievement and a great recognition of the innovative and excellent work that is undertaken between Staffordshire University and its partners.  Everyone who has played a part in the partnership should rightly be very proud of their achievements.”

The Forensic Parternship goes back to 2009 when John Beckwith, Head of Forensics at Staffordshire Police, and Andrew Jackson, then Head of Forensic and Crime Science at the University came up with the plan. The partnership was formally launched in 2016 and this year sees the third anniversary of this.

“Since then, many students, both in traditional and digital forensics have undertaken placements and project work, numerous research questions have been explored and answered, and a phenomenal relationship has developed between our two organisations. Many people have made significant and telling contributions to the Partnership over the years and have made it into the award winning success it is today.”

“I would like to express my personal thanks and gratitude to everyone who has been involved in the Partnership over the years, including colleagues at Staffordshire Police who have been incredibly innovative in their thinking and receptive to breaking down barriers in forensics and policing.  I am extremely proud to have played my part in the Partnership, but it has been, and continues to be, a huge team effort and it is a privilege to work with you all.”

Forced Marriage – 4 Years Later


Arieta Batirerega- Student

What is Forced Marriage?

Forced marriage is when you face physical pressure to marry (for example, threats, physical violence or sexual violence) or emotional and psychological pressure (e.g. if you’re made to feel like you’re bringing shame on your family if you refuse).

What  does the Law say?

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 made it a criminal offence in England, Wales and Scotland to force someone to marry.

This includes:

  • taking someone overseas to force them to marry (whether or not the forced marriage takes place);
  • marrying someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they’re pressured to or not).

Forcing someone to marry can result in a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.

The Current position

Since 2014, there have been four convictions relating to this across the UK. While legislation has seen a rise in people reporting concerns, many are unaware it is a crime and, therefore do not seek help. .

A government spokesman said its forced marriage campaign was “raising awareness amongst the public and potential victims”. The government is encouraging people affected by this to contact its helpline.

Here at Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic we can advise on family related issues. If we cannot help, we will be able to refer you to another organisation who may be able to assist. Please call 01782 294800 for an appointment.



Common Law Marriage – peculiarly persistent myth

Arieta Batirerega (Student)

A common law marriage is a term used where a couple live together for a period of time and holds themselves out to friends, family and the community as “being married” but without ever going through a formal ceremony or getting a marriage license.

Over the last few decades, family life and personal relationships in modern UK have changed considerably from same sex marriage to interracial marriage or young people sharing a flat. The fastest growing family are cohabiting couples with 3.3 million families in 2017. Cohabitants do not have any legal status and when relationships come to an end there are no automatic rights in most circumstances for either partner. For example, if one partner dies the other does not automatically inherit their estate.

According to a British Social Attitudes Survey, many people think that unmarried cohabiting couple have the same legal rights as a married couple. It suggests that households with children are more likely to have a misconception about their rights than those with no children. This misunderstanding can have a negative impact on the decisions people make about their lives. When relationships breakdown cohabitants can end up losing their home and income. This especially effects women who are often financially dependent on their partners.

However, there is now the option of entering into a civil partnership for those who wish to form a legal union without a traditional wedding. More awareness is needed on this subject

What is the Government doing to help cohabitant couples?

In Scotland, cohabitants who separate or in cases where a partner dies are given a set of limited rights. In England and Wales, there is little sign of progress by the Government, as there are no plans for the second reading of the cohabitation rights bill in the House of Lords.

As legislation plays an important role in addressing the problems that cohabitant couples face, it is equally important for the wider society and the public to work together in a combined effort to raise awareness about this issue.

SULAC can provide free legal advice on all family matters. Please call 01782 294800 for an appointment



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.