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The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 22nd April

The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 22nd April

Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:

Criminal Justice

Have the cut in budgets made the legal system more lenient on offenders?

Reported by Paige Waters

MPs have recently stated that one year sentences should be abolished to ease the prison safety crisis. The only exceptions would be crimes which were sexual offences or involved violence. 

This has been supported by Conservative MP Bob Neil who said: “throwing money at the prison system to tackle multiple issues takes funding away from external rehabilitative programmes that could stem or reverse many of the problems.”

The prison crisis comes from the increase of assaults and self-harming. This is at a record level. The report has raised the concern that it is unlikely to improve with the current prison population. 

This is a highly controversial topic as there has been many reports that has proven rehabilitative programmes are unsuccessful. Does abolishing sentencing less than a year prove the system to be more lenient on those less serious crimes? 

There are a vast majority of opinions which sees resources at an all time low which has led to the system being effected and those committing less serious crimes to be acquitted of the offence or to be subjected to a programme which is ‘supposed to’ rehabilitate them. 

To find out more, read here.

Legal Practitioners

Barristers Threaten to Walk Out Over Pay

Reported by Sarah Mullane

Criminal prosecutors in England and Wales have threatened to walk out in protest over their low levels of pay, it has been reported.

According to a survey of the members of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), the body of barristers acting on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), 95% claimed that they were prepared to take industrial action. Of those who replied, amounting to over two thousand, 99% stated that they felt underpaid for their work and 85% felt undervalued by the CPS.

The CBA have announced that they are considering taking action at the beginning of May, by way of initial protest action set to disrupt both Magistrates and Crown courts.

The announcement came in light of a recent revelation that many independent barristers are earning less than £50 a day in court, reflecting that rates have not risen in the past twenty years, despite the workload over the past five increasing for over 80% of the survey’s respondents.

Chris Henley QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said that “The current relationship with the CPS is broken [..] our goodwill and professionalism has been abused for far too long. There have been no increases in fee levels for 20 years. You can spend a whole day at court presenting a serious and complex case for £46.50.”

In response, a spokesperson for the CPS claimed that they had begun their review and were working with the CBA to “make sure we have simple, fair, affordable and sustainable prosecution fee schemes for the future.”

Despite this, the CPS have claimed that a large amount of research would be required to understand the issue at hand, which would likely take “at least four months” to achieve.

It is yet to be seen whether strike action will take place.

To find out more, read here and here.

National Security

Potential for Criminal Probe over National Security Council leak

Reported by Nathan Gore

The Culture Secretary, Jeremy Wright MP, has discussed the possibility of a criminal investigation into the recent leak from a National Security Council meeting concerning Hauwei.

This was after The Daily Telegraph reported that the NSC had agreed to let Chinese firm Huawei help build the UK’s 5G network. The NSC had apparently agreed to allow Chinese telecoms giant Huawei limited access to help build Britain’s new 5G network

This agreement to allow the Chinese firm this access comes amid warnings about possible risks to national security. As such, it was also reported that a number of ministers had raised concerns about moving forward with this plan.

Former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the leak was “too serious” for a standard Whitehall inquiry, and that everyone who was at the meeting should be subject to a “proper Scotland Yard investigation”.

This is because, he says, it was an “offence to divulge secret information from the most secret of all government bodies, which is the National Security Council”.

The National Security Council (NSC) is made up of a number of senior cabinet ministers and other invited experts, and is chaired by the Prime Minister Theresa May. They meet every week in order to discuss national security-related government objectives.

This is the first time that the National Security Council, formed in 2010, has suffered a serious leak of this nature.

To find out more, read here and here.

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