Duncan Lewis Solicitors

Updates of Legal Affairs…

Money confiscated from the criminals vanishes from the custody of police with no clue

March 29th, 2012

Money vanishing from under the nose of the very people who are supposed to safeguard it has come to light.

The Warwickshire police have confirmed that £113,000 money that was seized from criminals had disappeared from the secure storage area at its former headquarters.

The money was seized from criminals in 2009 under the Proceeds of Crime Act, from a trio who were jailed for different offences. The money was secured in a police building in the village of Leek Wootton from where it went missing since last September.

A corruption investigation was launched over the issue. The secret investigation was ordered by the force as they suspected the hand of a police officer in the missing of the money but even after six months the inquiry yielded nothing and only then they decided to go public with an appeal for information.

Initially the force had reported the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) but they said the investigation needed to be carried out locally.

The Anti Corruption Unit of Warwickshire Police’s Professional Standards Department is conducting the investigation.

The police house where the money was kept is known as Woodcote House which was used as a home for injured US servicemen in World War Two before being purchased by the Warwickshire County Council in 1947.

It remained as the Head Quarters for the force till February 2011 but now they have shifted to one stop justice center in Leamington Spa.

The force did not confirm from where the money was stolen whether it was in the safe or in an evidence room from where it went missing.

A Freedom of Information Act has shown that there are more than 8,000 crimes taking place every year in the police stations of England and Wales.

Police cars, uniforms and even handcuffs have all been stolen from under the noses of officers.

Lancashire, Gwent, Northamptonshire and Derbyshire each had some police property like cars, handcuffs, police radios, laptops etc stolen from right under their noses and saw some being reported in their own stations.

‘Assisted places’ a programme benefiting able students who cannot afford to go to top schools may return in knocked down form

March 29th, 2012

 

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‘Assisted places’ scheme wherein the councils provided subsidies to parents to take their wards out of state school will return in its partial form if the ‘Open Access’ programme proposed by the Sutton Trust charity is accepted by the authorities.

Dozens of top private schools including Westminster, Manchester Grammar, City of London School and King Edward’s Birmingham, were calling on the ministers to fund bright children find place in such schools where the parents could not afford the full fees.

The proposal of Sutton Trust charity wants to create a system under “Open Access” programme which would be operated fully and “needs blind” admissions.

Academicians have claimed it would be cheaper than funding places in the state sector and would increase the levels of going places in the society by letting the pupils to attend institutions with some of the best academic records in Britain.

As in every programme where government funding is involved the people who would lose on it, in this case, the teaching unions’ are expected to oppose it fiercely as it would mean diversion of state fund from the state education system.

The Conservative Coalition too would be apprehensive of backing such move for fear of igniting ‘elitism’ claims.

Sir Peter Lampl, the Sutton Trust chairman, said such schools would benefit more than 30,000 meritorious children who now cannot afford to do so. This he said would transform social mobility at the top.

In a report, the Sutton Trust suggests that education at a top private day school can be provided for around £11,000 per pupil each year.

Out of which it proposed the Government provided an average of £5,500 for each pupil to attend, which is about £500 less than a state school place, the rest is to be borne by the parents.

The fees would be based on the sliding fees where poorest pupil getting higher subsidy and the better off to get lower subsidies.

David Levin, headmaster of the City of London Boys’ School, said many highly able students are being turned away, from low and middle income homes, who otherwise would thrive in their schools.

Open Access would allow us to be truly needs blind in our admissions.

Paedophile who abused children jailed after 30 years of the crime

March 28th, 2012

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David Bryant, 65, kidnapped four girls aged between three and five in the 1980’s and 1990’s subjecting them to horrific torture lasting several hours.

Finally law caught up with the paedophile, 30 years after the first heinous crime he committed, using DNA technology and placing him behind bars.

The child abductor had snatched each of his victims in broad daylight while they were playing outside and dumped two of them in tears miles from their home.

Bryant, who avoided justice for three decades, was caught when one of his relative was arrested in an unrelated matter. The police used pioneering DNA technology called familial profiling to link Bryant to the unsolved cases.

Officers kept a strain of DNA on file, taken from an item of clothing belonging to one of the girls.

When Bryant’s relative was arrested in May last year, they took his DNA and discovered a familial match. The relative was not charged with any offence.

Bryant, who has previous convictions for sexual offences dating back to 1975, was arrested and his DNA was found to be a perfect match.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Binks of Northumbria Police described the child abductions as ‘every parent’s worst nightmare’.

For 30 years, Bryant left these victims and their families traumatized by his despicable actions and had shown absolutely no remorse, he said.

With advances in DNA technology, and the joint work with Hampshire Police and the Forensic Science Service, the man met his fate at last when he was sentenced to 16 years at the Newcastle Crown Court after several months of courtroom denials he had changed his plea to guilty in an earlier hearing.

Even after thirty years his victims recollect their trauma and live in fear of things which reminds them of the horrifying ordeal from the past.

Report by Riots Committee and Victims Panel concludes with recommendations

March 28th, 2012

A report by the Riots Committee and Victims Panel has concluded that the riots were the result of various factors like lack of opportunities for young people, poor parenting, and failure of the justice system to rehabilitate offenders, materialism and suspicion of the police.

The independent panel which was set up by the government to study the reasons behind the last years riots has said that more people should be given a chance in the society to prevent such disturbances.

Darra Singh chairperson of the panel said that when people feel they have no reason to stay out of trouble, devastating consequences takes place.

The report says that the key to avoiding such riots in the future is to have working communities. It recommended that fines for schools failing to teach children to read properly, faster and better support for troubled families, promise of job to the youth bringing in more young people to work and assessment of character by primary and secondary schools of its pupils.

The panel, which visited 21 communities and interviewed thousands of people affected by the riots, says its wide-ranging recommendations “must be enacted together” if the risk of further riots is to be reduced.

The report suggests the government’s Troubled Families Programme, set up after the riots, and may be aiming at the wrong target. TFP, led by the former “respect tsar”, Louise Casey, identified 120,000 families needing intervention to turn their lives around and prevent re-offending.

Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of the charity Kids Company, said that the report’s 500,000 figure of families in difficulties and in need of help was an underestimate and the actual figures would be far more than the half a million, because of the scale of problem involved.

She added that the panel had adopted “a middle class model” by suggesting the key to preventing offending lay in working with young people’s families. In fact she said more than 84% of the children who came to its charity were runaways who were seriously abused by their families whereas the report still assumed that young people’s families were intact.

The revised framework of Planning Policy’ finds more takers

March 28th, 2012

The revised framework with toned down version, of sustainable development and green belt protection in the countryside, has been broadly welcomed by the detractors of the Planning Policy.

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The planning minister Greg Clarke has said that a presumption should be there against any development of out of town shopping centers and that the ‘green belt’ needed to be protected.

The biggest revamp of The National Planning Policy Framework in five decades is to replace more than 1,000 pages of planning rules put in place by successive governments with a single, 50-page document for a simplified system which brought in more houses and other developments while creating employment.

The new guidelines are built around a “presumption in favour of sustainable development, where it was emphasized that a balance was maintained between environment, economic sustainability, social needs, good governance and sound science.

The draft document of last year has been amended to please the campaigners who were against the framework. Now the Brownfield sites would be built before any development on the Greenfield sites and town centers shall be developed before any out of town centers.

The revised framework acknowledges the value and beauty of the countryside, by specifically protecting the playing fields and disallows any developments on the gardens.

 

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But answering MPs’ questions after his statement, Clark went further in defining “sustainable” when he said having a shopping center outside the town was not sustainable’ building on the green belt was not sustainable, – the protected land around urban centres intended to prevent suburban spread out.

Officials later said such developments should only go ahead in exceptional circumstances.

Different housing and campaign organizations have welcomed the revised framework significant being the most important declaration of support by the charity, National Trust, which organised a petition of nearly a quarter of a million people against the draft, which was welcomed by its director general Dame Fiona Reynolds, saying that the changes improved the document and gave it a better tone and balance.

Under the framework, local councils will have a year to prepare local plans pointing out developing sites and proposals within the plans should be approved without delay. Where plans are absent, silent or outdated developments would be approved after considering damages and benefits and any proposals in conflict with the plans will be discarded.

ONS has released figures showing a considerable gap of pay between public sector and private sector workers

March 28th, 2012

The office of National Statistics (ONS) has come out with figures which suggest that there was a gap of 8 to 9 percent of wages between the public sector workers and the private sector employees.

In the financial year 2007 before the financial crisis the gap was only 5.3 percent compared to April 2011 and the gap increased to 7.8 percent in 2010-2011.

To maintain a consistent reading the ONS said that it had assumed the employees of those banks which were nationalized in 2008 as private sector employees until 2011. Without the assumption the gap would have shown much more to 9.3 percent the ONS said.

Of many reasons attributed to such rise in pay it was found that public sector had older employees whose earnings rise with age.

Another factor given was that the public sector had more high skilled jobs whereas the low skilled jobs with them were outsourced to the private sector.

The ONS also said public sectors were paid more because there is a bigger proportion of people who have degrees or equivalent qualifications in the industry and private sector workers are more likely to get other perks such as company cars and health insurance.

The ONS figures is bound to give the Conservatives a fresh reason to seek further cut backs in the public sectors which they believe were inflated during Labour’s years in command.

But the unions and the ONS itself have argued that the comparison was not a straightforward job and different methods of computing would give different results.

Unison warned the report “masked the reality” of low pay and the ongoing pay freeze.

Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment, said that the average pay figures shown do not make direct comparisons between specific job salaries in each sector. Still the fact is that public sector pay is still considerably higher than pay in the private sector.

There was a need to ensure that public sector salaries reflected local labour market conditions, by letting the employers decide about the pay at the local level.

The ONS’s figures do not take into account that the private sector excludes self-employed people and non-cash remuneration such as pension contributions and health insurance.

Endowment policies of various companies coming to end this year would fail to give savers sufficient sum to pay of their mortgage loans

March 28th, 2012

 

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Failure of some great number of endowment policies is going to see around 360,000 families selling their properties. In some cases the expected returns have fallen short to £100,000 of the promised levels.

Several of those who saved loyally for 25 years would get only around £25,000 a lot lesser amount to the capital they owe on their homes.

And with banks and building societies not keen on lending to people who are approaching their retirement, many will be forced to sell their homes or have to take out their savings to clear mortgage debts.

Though the properties have seen a rise in value up by 250 percent, since they were bought, taking any advantage of the equity would mean homeowners would have to leave home and move to different area.

Up to two million may end up in the same situation over the next five years.

Payouts on endowment policies have been falling for years. With some companies, the majority of policies coming to the end of their term this year, it seems good returns on the policies was far below the promised levels,to pay off the home loans.

Insurance companies will see a record number of policies mature this year, a result of the endowment mortgage sales that gripped the late Eighties.

More than six million policies were taken up, bringing in annual premiums of more than £2.3 billion for insurers.

They were sold to homebuyers as a way to pay off their mortgage  and provide an extra lump sum if investment returns were good.

Homebuyers  paid interest to the lender but none of the capital they had borrowed.

Martin Wheatley, a director of the Financial Services Authority, has raised concerns that up to 1.5 million homeowners in their 50s with interest-only mortgages were on the brink of defaulting on their loans.

Patrick Connolly, from independent advisers AWD Chase de Vere, said that payouts have fallen over the past few years and it was likely to continue with increasing risk of those saving in policies having to sell their home to pay off the home loan.

 

 

Student visa flaws may have left 50000 migrants abusing it

March 27th, 2012

 

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In a report by Whitehall’s spending watchdog the National Audit Office found that due to non adherence to key controls up to 50,000 migrants might have exploited the flaws in the student visa system which let a new student to work in his first year.

In 2009 the Labour had brought changes which needed each student to be sponsored by a college licensed by the UKBA and not allowing students to change institution without gaining permission.

There was no limit on the enrolment of numbers of non – European Economic Area students by a college and the students were even free to change college and course without notifying the UK Border Agency.

The Home Office said “tough new rules” were cutting student visa numbers.

Colleges were responsible for judging people’s intentions to study.

But the audit office said the system had been brought in “before the key controls were in place” and that “in its first year of operation, between 40,000 and 50,000 individuals may have entered the UK, to work rather than to study.

It added the UKBA did not check on those who entered the UK as students whether they were attending college.

The report continued that the agency had not taken any action to prevent and detect students overstaying or working in breach of their visa conditions as it considered them as low-priority compared to illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers.

Even though the agency started removing 2,700 students since 1 April 2009, it was not done with any urgency when there was a cause to do so the Audit office said.

It meant that, in many cases, enforcement teams were unable to apprehend students who were working and not attending college.

Addresses for almost a fifth of more than 800 migrants wanted by the agency were found in just one week at a cost of £3,000 by a contractor hired by the watchdog.

Amyas Morse, head of the audit office, said the flaws in the student visa system had been “both predictable and avoidable”.

Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Commons Public Accounts Committee said, it was a case of poor management leading to abuse.

But immigration minister Damian Green said that the government had introduced radical reforms in order to stamp out abuse and restore order to the uncontrolled student visa system that it inherited.

Plans on way for stringent community sentences

March 27th, 2012

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There are plans by the ministers to set out tougher Community sentencing for offenders in England and Wales.

Though there are around 170,000 people who are given community sentences every year ministers are of the opinion that they are too lenient.

The plans could include use of electronic tagging through GPS tracking system and rigorous punishment orders like curfews and travel bans.

But the probation union Napo said that it would be counterproductive as more serious sentences would make offenders hard at meeting their requirements.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) had said that trials had shown that community sentences were cheaper and checked re-offending.

The aim was not necessarily to reduce the numbers in prisons, but the new community sentences could help courts to deal with cases requiring fewer sentences of less than 12 months.

The GPS system tagging devises being currently put to trial would control the movement of the offenders as it is seen that community sentences did more harm when it came to re offending.

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke is to set out the proposals later. He is to convey that revamping the community sentences is to ensure they are tough, credible and robust.

He will say that criminals must be punished for their crimes and pay back to communities and victims eventually getting reformed.

He is to set out plans to modernize the probation services and he would be saying that firm punishment and effective reform of the offender comes from a good sentencing.

But probation union Napo voiced concern about a negative impact of tougher community sentences.

But assistant general secretary Harry Fletcher of probation union Napo said that more punitive the order, higher the breach rate. He added that technology of GPS may not prevent breach when there is a breakdown. Higher the breaches then there are more imprisonments he added.

Mr Fletcher also said there was “no evidence that GPS satellite tracking will reduce crime or save costs”.

‘No – fault’ divorce law sees strong support in senior judges

March 27th, 2012

 

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Senior judges have again raised the need for a law on ‘no fault divorce’ saying that the current system of divorce laws was not in sync with the times.

Lord Justice Thorpe gave his view in an Appeal Court ruling on a contested divorce.

In the case of Susan Rae, who believed minor disagreements had been wrongly interpreted as ‘unreasonable behaviour’, he said that he felt sad that the wife was not able to accept what has happened to her.

A ‘no fault’ divorce law removing the need for fault in divorces was passed by John Major’s Conservative government in 1996. It was backed by judges, lawyers, academics and charities but its detractors said it would encourage couples to break up.

The Family Law Act 1996 was seen as unworkable in trials, and Tony Blair’s government scrapped the plan to introduce no-fault divorces. But legal luminaries, kept on lobbying for the law.

Sir Nicholas Wall, who as president of the High Court’s Family Division and was a member of the Whitehall advisory group in 1996 in a speech to family lawyers said that at the moment so far as divorce itself was concerned it was in fact administrative process which was given a judicial mask he added.

Lord Justice Thorpe said that the divorce laws remained unchanged since 1969. The no fault proposals would have meant that divorce proceedings need not be go through the painful hearings designed to establish fault.

He said that if the no fault proposals were implemented then, there would have been no need for these painful investigations, which has become symbols of social values of the past and no more relevant today.

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Sir Nicholas Wall said that the roots of fault finding dated back in history. In the 19th century, and for much of the 20th, divorce was a matter of social status. Divorce was a serious issue then and it did matter who was at fault and who was the innocent party. All that, is no more relevant and defended divorces were now effectively unheard of he added.

At present, couples can be legally parted within six months if one party is shown to be at fault. The most common grounds are unreasonable behaviour, which can include committing adultery or devoting too much time to one’s career.

Politicians and family experts yesterday warned against removing fault from divorce.