AllAboutLaw Blog: A tough stance on law and order, the Epstein ordeal and more

In this week’s edition of the AllAboutLaw Blog, we look at the government's proposal to tackle crime rights in the UK, the implications of Epstein’s death and the National Rifle Association’s attitude following the mass shootings in the United States.

 

  • Last updated Aug 14, 2019 1:14:56 PM
  • Tuula Petersen
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“The punishment must truly fit the crime”—the government’s tightening rhetoric on law and order

In anticipation of a possible autumn general election, Boris Johnson has disclosed a tougher stance to tackle criminal activity in the UK. Following an announcement last week to increase the police force by adding an additional 20,000 police officers, the prime minister revealed plans to increase funding for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), extend jail terms and create more prison places.

The move to toughen the government’s stance on criminal prosecution comes amid the threat of increasing crime levels in the UK’s small towns and villages, often referred to as county lines. To reduce the risk of illegal activity, the announcement includes an increase in police stop-and-search powers under section 60 powers. Police will be encouraged to carry out random searches on individuals.

However, this decision has been met with criticism from government officials such as Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman, as well as Sir David Latham, former judge and chairman of the Parole Board of England and Wales. According to a Home Office Study, the use of random stop and search had no significant effects on crime at a borough level. In 2017-18, black people were 9.5 times more likely to be searched by the police than white people. In order to avoid similar statistics, police will be required to wear body cameras.

Some within the legal sector were quick to condemn the announcement of increased police officers, fearing that the current state of the criminal justice system would not be able to cope with the likely increase in arrests and prosecutions. The announcement of an extra £85 million for the CPS has been met with further criticism by lawyers claiming this new injection of money does not make up for 10 years of “relentless cuts”.

Richard Atkins QC, Chair of the Bar Council said “ The Bar Council welcomes any increased funding for the criminal justice system which for too long has suffered cuts”. However he also stressed the need to ensure the legal system is provided with sufficient resources to remain competent in dealing with a potential increase in arrests and ensuing convictions. “Given the vital public service that members of the criminal Bar play in keeping criminal justice running, it is essential that the Prime Minister and the Treasury hear directly from representatives of the Bar as the new Government looks to repair the broken system”.

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“Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour… If at my convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?”

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

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Firm News

Osborne Clarke has advised Equitix and ENGIE on contracts worth over £200 million for a state-of-the-art student accomodation and regeneration scheme for the University of Leicester.

The New York-based financial law firm, Murphy and McGonigle, will bring cryptocurrency cases from different jurisdictions into a single, searchable location. 

Ince appoints Nick Goldstone and Michael Volikas as joint managing partners of the London office.

Linklaters leads Magic Circle pack amid solid 2018/19 trading by uncertainty looms over the City elite.

Herbert Smith Freehills becomes the latest global practice to offer legal services in China.

Hogan Lovells releases its Standard Essential Patent (SEP) update report.

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 Lawmakers demand answers following the death of Epstein

Jeffery Epstein, a wealthy financier and accused sex trafficker, was found dead in his cell over the weekend by apparent suicide. His death comes a day after the release of court documents providing new details about his crimes. 

Lawmakers expressed their concern and outrage over the circumstances of his death. Having previously attempted to commit suicide two weeks earlier, Epstein was placed on high alert for further suicide attempts. 

Lawyers representing the alleged victims of Epstein have spoken on behalf of their clients. An unnamed accuser statement reads: “I will never have a sense of closure now.” Although the criminal case ended with Epstein’s death, the lawsuit will continue against his estate.

Epstein’s social circle included famous individuals including President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew. Some of the financier’s elite social contacts have been implicated in the allegations, in turn leading to a wave of conspiracy theories relating to his death.

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National Rifle Association’s reluctance to budge

Following the most recent mass shootings in the United States, President Donald Trump had suggested last Friday that the National Rifle Association lobby group (NRA) could soften opposition to gun reforms after mass shootings. However the previous day, the NRA released a statement that it still opposed further gun restrictions.

 The National Rifle Association appeared in court this Monday against the city of Los Angeles seeking to overturn a law requiring contractors to disclose all business ties to the organisation. The NRA claims the law violates its right to free speech and association by trying to freeze out the group’s corporate supporters.

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Recommended Reading

Can we expect a rise of a new kind of law firm capitalising on blockchain and cryptocurrency? 

“The glory days of the one-stop legal shop died with Lehman” – a call for specialist law firms.

Casio Electronic Co. Limited fined by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for breaking competition law.

Revisit the legendary debate that laid down US political lines on race, justice and history.

Understanding domestic terrorism in the wake of the recent mass shootings in the United States.

How copyright law has not yet caught up with the “legal netherworld of meme accounts”.

Elizabeth Warren, a former professor of law, and her run for President. 

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