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News and opinion - 21 January 2021

New SQE programme - coming soon!

In anticipation of the rollout of the new Solicitors Qualifying Exams in September, the Clinic will be offering students the opportunity to engage in qualifying work experience for 6 weeks (full time) or 12 weeks (part time) and to have their hours signed off by a solicitor so that they count towards the SQE. Through a combination of seminars, workshops and our digital school, students will not only develop functional knowledge of criminal law, but also improve their practical skills in managing cases and clients, with the end goal of improving their prospects of obtaining further qualifying work experience placements within a law firm. Prices start from £350 per student and we will be offering both in-person and online/remote formats whenever possible. Please contact us directly for more information.
-LG

News and opinion - 20 January 2021

FLC team updates

Many of you will have worked with Khaled Hussain-Dupré through our criminal appeals programme. Having been an integral part of the clinic’s development and client work for the past three years, Khaled will now be taking up the role of Casework Director, focussing on the clinic’s criminal appeals programme as well as continuing to develop relationships with our partner universities and training providers. If you have any questions about new student cohorts, current student opportunities or integrating the Clinic’s programmes into your teaching or curriculum then please direct these to Khaled (khaled@freedomlawclinic.org) and as ever we will do our utmost accommodate.

We also welcome to the permanent casework team Josie Laidman, Graham Purcell and Tamsin Sandiford, all of whom have completed our criminal appeals programme and will now be engaging with students as well as supporting our clients.
– LG

News and opinion - 13 November 2020

Report published

Congratulations to all the students from…University of Birmingham, University of Essex, University of Hertfordshire, Liverpool John Moores University, London Metropolitan University, Queen Mary University of London, The Open University, University of Wolverhampton…who took part in our ‘Civil Liberties in the Lockdown’ project, culminating in the final report which is now available to download.

News and opinion - 12 May 2020

Prime Minister's statement to Commons re: Covid-19

On the 11th of May 2020, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a speech to the House of Commons to provide the details of his plan with respect to easing the Coronavirus Lockdown. 

Johnson confirmed that all international travellers into the UK will have to self-isolate for 14 days. It was also said that new arrivals into the U.K. will have to give their contact number, as well as the address of the accommodation of where they plan to stay. 

People can drive “as far as they like” to reach outdoor spaces. The standard fine for those who ‘flout the rules’ is set to increase from the current £60 to £100.

Sir Keir Starmer, the Leader of the Opposition, questioned whether the government’s new guidelines for social distancing on public transport were ready to be implemented on Wednesday, when some people were due to return to work. Starmer stressed that the country needed “reassurance and clarity”, which he claimed were in “short supply”. The Labour leader asked why transport companies are being asked to adhere to rules “that don’t yet exist”.

The Prime Minister responded by confirming that the government will be publishing specific guidelines on employment later on Wednesday with transport guidelines to follow on Thursday. Johnson also said that there will “inevitably be complexities” for the government in this next phase, as it moves away from the “gloriously simple” message to ‘stay at home’. Johnson said “I think everybody understands what we are trying to do together. And that is working together as a country to obey social distancing rules that everyone understands. This is the moment for the whole country to come together, obey those rules and apply their common sense in the application of those rules.”.

News and opinion - 18 May 2020

13,445 Covid fines handed out

Data released by the National Police Chiefs Council on the 15 May shows that before the regulations were updated by the government on the 13 May 13,445 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) had been issued by forces in England; with 799 in Wales.

•   397 (6%) were for repeat offenders, with one person fined 6 times.    

•   10,099 were issued for contravening ‘a requirement as to restriction of movement’ during the emergency period

•   8 in 10 were issued to males

•   7 in 10 were given to the under 35 years old

•   78% were given to people who self-identified as white

•   49 fines were wrongly handed to children and rescinded because the law only allows over-17s to be punished. 

NPCC Chairman Martin Hewitt recognised the vast majority of us continue to do the ‘right thing’, and enforcement powers appear to remain proportionate with just 0.02% of the population in England being issued with a fine.

The national lead for out of court disposals, Deputy Chief Constable Sara Glen also accepted the police were open to scrutiny and understood they would not ‘always get it right. When we get it wrong, we do apologise quickly and embed the learning.’

If you have received Fixed Penalty Notice, then we would like to hear from you. Alternatively, if you are a lawyer working on issues related to civil liberties and would like to get involved then, please get in contact.

News and opinion - 12 May 2020

Prime Minister's statement to Commons re: Covid-19

On the 11th of May 2020, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a speech to the House of Commons to provide the details of his plan with respect to easing the Coronavirus Lockdown. 

Johnson confirmed that all international travellers into the UK will have to self-isolate for 14 days. It was also said that new arrivals into the U.K. will have to give their contact number, as well as the address of the accommodation of where they plan to stay. 

People can drive “as far as they like” to reach outdoor spaces. The standard fine for those who ‘flout the rules’ is set to increase from the current £60 to £100.

Sir Keir Starmer, the Leader of the Opposition, questioned whether the government’s new guidelines for social distancing on public transport were ready to be implemented on Wednesday, when some people were due to return to work. Starmer stressed that the country needed “reassurance and clarity”, which he claimed were in “short supply”. The Labour leader asked why transport companies are being asked to adhere to rules “that don’t yet exist”.

The Prime Minister responded by confirming that the government will be publishing specific guidelines on employment later on Wednesday with transport guidelines to follow on Thursday. Johnson also said that there will “inevitably be complexities” for the government in this next phase, as it moves away from the “gloriously simple” message to ‘stay at home’. Johnson said “I think everybody understands what we are trying to do together. And that is working together as a country to obey social distancing rules that everyone understands. This is the moment for the whole country to come together, obey those rules and apply their common sense in the application of those rules.”.

News and opinion - 9 April 2020

Police to 'hone in’ on those ‘ignoring’ coronavirus laws

A senior police officer said today that the lockdown would be ramped up following a three week ‘grace period’.

Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Nick Adderley said that the police had ‘given the public three weeks’ to ‘get used’ to the lockdown. His forces would now ‘hone in on’ those ‘flouting’ the regulations.

He suggested that the police could resort to roadblocks to prevent unnecessary journeys if the public continue to ignore the law. Adderley suggested that officers could also search shopping trolleys to make sure that customers were not buying unnecessary items. He later rolled back on this claiming that he was merely making a point about the necessity of individual journeys.

Adderley’s speech demonstrates that the certain police officers are taking a more assertive role in the lockdown. We have seen recent examples of the police appearing to act on the word of the Government rather than what is contained in the Act.

This style of policing will not help fight the Coronavirus pandemic. There is no evidence that the public are making large numbers of unnecessary journeys. What constitutes an ‘essential item’ is not a matter for the police to determine.

Of course the police face a challenge in policing the lockdown. But the power of the police must be strictly constrained by law.

If you are affected by the Coronavirus Act then get in touch.

News and opinion - 6 April 2020

Civil liberties in the lockdown

We are coordinating a national project to monitor civil liberties during the UK lockdown. We are going to use our network of students to monitor the application of the law during the pandemic.

We are also offering pro-bono legal help to anyone effected by the enforcement of the Coronavirus Act 2020 or the related regulations.

We recognise that the police have a difficult job to do. But the law must be applied proportionately and fairly. The way we treat citizens during this emergency could shape the way we live for generations.

We want to conduct research into how the powers are being exercised. We want to offer free legal help to make sure civil liberties are protected. We want to make sure the impact of this pandemic is limited to what is required to protect the public.

If you have been subject to these powers then we would like to hear from you. Alternatively, if you are a lawyer working on issues related to civil liberties and would like to get involved then please get in touch.

News and opinion - 18 May 2020

13,445 Covid fines handed out

Data released by the National Police Chiefs Council on the 15 May shows that before the regulations were updated by the government on the 13 May 13,445 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) had been issued by forces in England; with 799 in Wales.

•   397 (6%) were for repeat offenders, with one person fined 6 times.    

•   10,099 were issued for contravening ‘a requirement as to restriction of movement’ during the emergency period

•   8 in 10 were issued to males

•   7 in 10 were given to the under 35 years old

•   78% were given to people who self-identified as white

•   49 fines were wrongly handed to children and rescinded because the law only allows over-17s to be punished. 

NPCC Chairman Martin Hewitt recognised the vast majority of us continue to do the ‘right thing’, and enforcement powers appear to remain proportionate with just 0.02% of the population in England being issued with a fine.

The national lead for out of court disposals, Deputy Chief Constable Sara Glen also accepted the police were open to scrutiny and understood they would not ‘always get it right. When we get it wrong, we do apologise quickly and embed the learning.’

If you have received Fixed Penalty Notice, then we would like to hear from you. Alternatively, if you are a lawyer working on issues related to civil liberties and would like to get involved then, please get in contact.

Freedom Law Clinic is a Community Interest Company registered (10227294) in England. That means that any profit we make goes straight back in to providing more legal education and assistance to clients in line with our mission statement.

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