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The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 13th May

The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 13th May

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

Criminal Justice

Are private prisons functional?

Reported by Paige Waters

It has been found that private jails are to be more violent than public. This has raised a plethora of questions over the government’s plans to pursue its prisons-for-profit model. In September there were 156 more assaults per 1000 prisoners in private prisons. 

Although this evidence has came to light, it has not prevented the Ministry of Justice’s plans as they still aim to build more prisons for private operation; with HMP Glen Parva in Leicestershire and HMP Wellingborough in Northamptonshire to be ran privately. 

Labour has called for this to be assessed. They have called for an independent inquiry into the privatisation of prisons. Burgon stated: “these figures will further fuel fears that privatisation is leading to corners being cut as private companies treat our prisons system as a money-making excuse.”

There is a discrepancy in the results found as within 14 private prisons, 5 are male only prisoners. Within these 5 male only prisoners, there was 701 assaults per 1000 compared to 493 per 1000 prisoners in the 18 publicly run male local prisons. 

However, there does not seem to be complaints amongst all private prisoners as a number of private jails have received praise from the prisons inspectorate, including G4S’s HMP Oakwood which was described as an ‘impressive institution’. Thereby this leaves queries over the cause of the assaults, it leaves doubt on whether the increase is due to to leadership and leniency of the prison system. 

Find out more here

Politics

Brexit Bill to be brought in early June

Reported by Sarah Mullane

The UK government has announced that a Brexit deal will be brought to MPs by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, in early June of 2019.

Almost three months after the United Kingdom was initially due to leave the European Union, MPs will be provided a further opportunity to vote on Brexit, in the hope that a deal can be reached before the extended October deadline. The Prime Ministers pledge comes despite the concerns of opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, that Theresa May is unable to provide a satisfactory cross-party deal. Mrs May is due to go ahead with the vote “with or without Labour’s backing”.

According to a spokesperson for Labour, during his meeting with the Prime Minister on Tuesday, Jeremy Corbyn “set out the shadow cabinet’s concerns [..] in particular, he raised doubts over the credibility of government commitments”. Despite this, Downing Street have stated that the withdrawal bill will be brought forward in the week commencing 3rd June, and argued that “it is imperative we do so then if the UK is to leave the EU before the summer parliamentary recess”.

Theresa May has already brought three votes to Parliament, all of which have been rejected. The Prime Minister has so far come under fire for her handling of Brexit, with repeated calls from her own party and opposition alike for her to step down, with many citing their lack of faith in her leadership following her failed Brexit negotiation attempts. Potential leadership contender Boris Johnson has stated that he will overturn any customs union deal proposed, and with the recent council elections dealing a large blow to the Conservatives, leadership contenders are placed in a strong position to sway the parties votes.

The Prime Ministers talks with Labour will continue on Wednesday.

Find out more here.

Family Law

Ex-Head of Family Courts says that children’s voices and wishes are being overlooked

Reported by Nathan Gore

Sir James Munby, former president of the Family Division of the High Court, has stated that the family courts in England and Wales are not properly accommodating the wishes and needs of children.

His comments come after concerns were raised, following reports of at least four children having been killed in the last 5 years by a parent who was granted access via the family court system.

What’s more, the parent in question had been granted unsupervised access to their child despite having a history of violence. 

Following these reports, more than 120 MPs have now written to the government calling for an inquiry into how the family courts in England and Wales handle instances of domestic violence in such cases. 

Sir James said the system was failing to accommodate the voices of children “well enough” – including in cases where they wished “to see the court, give evidence or meet the judge”.

He then added that “detailed proposals” to improve this had been worked up, “but nothing can come into effect without the approval of the minister”.

He said he was told approval had not been given because, “in plain English, it would all cost too much”.

The Ministry of Justice have stated that a child’s welfare was always the top priority.

Read more here.

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