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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, Sociology, Criminology and Terrorism, Chemistry, 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

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.  

Improved Air Travel for Disabled Passengers

Jess Latham Final year Law student at Staffordshire University.
 
Ministers say air travel could become easier for disabled passengers if a new charter for airlines and airports is adopted.

Disabled flyers have long complained of difficulties with access on planes and in airports. They have called for better trained airline staff and baggage handlers.
The charter aims to allow people to take their own wheelchairs into aircraft cabins.
It is clear that change is needed. More than 57% of passengers with a disability say that they find the airport process distressing and difficult, according to a survey by the Civil Aviation Authority.
Chris Wood, from Campaign Group Flying Disabled expressed that this is a step in the right direction. He went on to say:
 
‘’My aspiration is to have people flying in their own wheelchairs to a destination within two years and it looks as if the UK could lead the way in making this happen’’.
 
Last year saw shocking scenes of a paraplegic athlete dragging himself along the floor of Luton Airport after his wheelchair was left behind on a flight.
 
The changes will be welcomed by disabled people, however, the issue of how the government will work around the Montreal Convention is questionable. One difficulty that the government face is how much disabled passengers will be reimbursed for lost or broken wheelchairs.
 
No date has been set to see these measures implemented, however some airlines are already trying to make things easier. Gatwick has implemented changes to improve the experience of disabled flyers. One airport lounge has specifically been designed for passengers with a variety of disabilities. Staff have also been given specialist training.
 
The government says that the policy will be finalised next year. Much needed changes will be welcomed so that everyone has an equal opportunity to fly.
 
SULAC can assist with problems relating to discrimination. Appointment can be made in Stoke and Stafford.
If SULAC can be of any assistance to you or you would like further information, please contact: 01782 294800
 
 
 
 

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

Discrimination Against Vegans

By Abid Shaukat (Student)

A vegan has recently been dismissed by his employer. Mr Jordi Casamitjana claims that he was sacked by his work place after he had disclosed information that they were investing pension funds into firms which were involved in animal testing.

Mr Casamitjana claims that he has been discriminated against. The tribunal will now decide if veganism should be protected under discrimination legislation.

The League Against Cruel Sports, where Mr Casamitjana was employed, say that he was dismissed due to gross misconduct and deny sacking him for his veganism.

Mr Casamitjana claims that veganism is his belief and affects every aspect of his life.

Mr Casamitjana told other employees about the companies investments and was sacked as a result of this.

The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination in the workplace and within the wider society. “religion or belief” is currently a protected characteristic. The Tribunal will have to decide whether veganism is a “philosophical belief”. More and more people are choosing a vegetarian/vegan diet- should the law be changed to protect this choice?

Here at Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (“SULAC”) we can advise on discrimination claims and employment cases, alongside many other aspects of law such as consumer issues, family law, personal injury and housing.

Please feel free to contact us for more information and/or book an appointment via telephone on 01782 294800 or via email at SULAC@staffs.ac.uk

 

 

Keeping Up with Our Graduates

Mica Tolosa-Wright, BSc (Hons) Forensic Science alumni, has been in touch to show us what exciting things she has been doing since graduating from Staffordshire University. 

“Research Technician Mica, of the National Heart and Lung Institute, won the 2018 President’s Award for Research Support Excellence for her work at the Tuberculosis (TB) Research Centre.

Mica was nominated for a number of achievements, including being the primary laboratory supervisor for a Master of Research (MRes) student, and training in containment level 3 laboratory protocols in order to independently deal with highly-infectious TB samples.

Mica is now working on a new research MRC funded study, investigating the immunological response for implementation of Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccination (LAIV), and has started a part-time Master’s in Genomic Medicine at Imperial. We spoke to Mica about her reflections on winning the President’s Award for Excellence.”  Read the full article here.

‘SQE: What Next’

This January, it was Staffordshire University’s turn to host the next Undergraduate-Law Providers meeting. The meetings allow Law Providers to keep up-to-date with any changes that impact the Legal profession. This meeting focused on the proposed introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination. 

On the 15th of January, the Law Department hosted a day-long meeting of UK Undergraduate Law Providers. Invitations to this event were issued jointly by Ruby Hammer, Head of Law at Staffordshire, and John Koo of London South Bank University.

The last meeting, in July 2018, was hosted by London South Bank University and the University of Brighton.

January’s meeting consisted of presentations as well as open forum discussion on ‘SQE: What Next?’ and other topical matters relevant to delivery of LLB and GDL/CPE courses.

The Law Society’s website states “the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is looking to introduce a new way of qualifying into the [legal profession: the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).

Pictured are John Koo (Course Director for the Law Conversion course – PG Diploma / CPE, London South Bank University), Aidan Flynn (Lecturer at Staffordshire University), Andy Unger (Head of Law Division at London South Bank University) and Rhonda Hammond-Sharlot (Lecturer at Birmingham City University)

 

Patient Sues GP Surgery for Mental Trauma-Vicarious Liability

Brang Aung (Student)

Sally Brayshaw, a mother of six, was recovering from bowel surgery and had chronic back pain, depression and other mental health problems. In August 2012, she went to see her doctors at the Apsley Surgery in Stoke-On-Trent for treatment and to discuss her severe depression.

It is alleged that the GP, Dr Thomas O’Brien, offered her an “alternative healing method”. Mrs Brayshaw stated that she presumed that it would be something like acupuncture. Instead Dr O’brien, who followed a Pentecostal form of Christianity, allegedly tried to indoctrinate her with his religious beliefs. Mrs Brayshaw claimed that he spoke to her in tongues and told her she was possessed by demons.

Mrs Brayshaw alleges that Dr Obrien gave her religious gifts and invited her a religious meeting where a preacher told a nightmarish tale involving witch doctors and owls. She was later asked to come to the front of the room by the preacher and to hold her hands out.  Dr O’brien blew on her and commanded the demons to leave her body.

Mrs Brayshaw was awarded damages in the region of £12500. She sued the GP surgery for ‘deliberate infliction of harm, negligence and harassment’. The barrister, Justin Levinson, acting on behalf of Mrs Brayshaw, claimed that the surgery was ‘vicariously liable’ for Dr O’Brien’s actions and alleged that the ‘manipulation’ of Mrs Brayshaw occurred within the context of Dr O’Brien’s duties as a GP. The Surgery’s partners denied that he breached his duty as a doctor and alleged that Mrs Brayshaw’s symptoms may not be connected to the incidents. They also said that even if there was a breach, they were not liable to pay damages caused by Dr O’Brien as he was not an employee of the surgery and was an ‘independent contractor’, hence the surgery was not responsible for his actions.

The Judge found against the surgery.

What is vicarious liability?

Vicarious liability is where an employer is liable for a wrong committed by its employee while acting in ‘the course of his employment.’

There are three factors that must be satisfied in order to find an employer vicariously liable:

  1. There must be an employer-employee relationship which must be distinguished from an employer’s relationship with an independent contractor;
  2. The employee must have committed a tort; and
  3. The tort must have been committed while the employee is acting in the course of his/her employment.

If the above matters are satisfied, then the employer will be liable for the actions of its employees.

Here at Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic, we have a number of employment law experts. The legal advice clinic run by its law students can advise on all areas of employment law. Please call 01782 294800 for an appointment.

Shortlisted for NUE ‘Best Collaboration Between a University and Employer Award

Staffordshire University has successfully been shortlisted as one of the top five in the Best Collaboration Between a University and Employer Award at the National Undergraduate Employability (NUE) Awards.

The nomination is based on the Staffordshire Forensic Partnership Staffordshire University has with Staffordshire Police.

All nominations will be presented to their independent judging panel who will review all of the candidates.

The winner will then be announced at the Awards Ceremony in London on Friday 1st March 2019.

#NUEAwards

What the Edtech?! Jisc Podcast Series Episode three: the research landscape, here and now

In May 2018, Associate Professor Rachel Bolton-King was invited to do a feature on the latest Jisc podcast series ‘What the EdTech?!’ about Forensics research.

The content, which begins from 30mins 35 seconds in, focuses on Rachel’s collaborative research, the concepts/challenges of research data management, learner/data analytics, and linking academia to practioners. She also touches on the CATE Award and Research4Justice.

You can now listen to the podcast here.