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Criminal Defence Blog

Archive for May, 2016

Hate Crime Solicitors

Steve Williams of Forrest Williams

 

Hate Crime Solicitors – How Can We Help?

 

What is a ‘hate crime’?

 

A hate crime is any incident which the victim (or any other person) thinks is based on someone’s prejudice towards them because of their:

 

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • Or because they are transgender

 

Anyone who has been called names, or bullied, or suffered any other actions which they believe may be due to one (or more) of these factors should report hate incidents to the police, even if they do not want the matter to be investigated.

 

Not all hate incidents will amount to criminal offences, but those that do will become hate crimes.

 

A common definition of hate crime has been agreed by The Association of Chief Police Officers and the CPS, as follows:-

 

“Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.”

 

What types of hate crimes are there?

 

There are different types of hate crimes:

 

  • Race and religious
  • Homophobic and transphobic
  • Disability
  • Crimes against older people

 

What should I do if I believe I am a victim of hate crime?

 

You should report what has happened to the police, who should treat the matter very seriously if they believe a hate crime has been/is being committed.

 

In an emergency situation, you should call 999 and ask for the police.

 

In a non-emergency situation, you can attend a police station in person, call the non-emergency number for your local police station, or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you want to remain anonymous.

 

 

Can I take out a private prosecution against a person who has been victimising me?

 

Yes, this is an option where the police and the CPS do not bring charges against the other party. We could assist you with this.

 

If you would like to discuss a private prosecution with us, please call Forrest Williams Legal Ltd on 01623 600645.

 

Sexual Offences – Commonly Asked Questions

Sexual offences – commonly asked questions

 

What are sexual offences?

 

Sex offences are crimes that are covered by the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

 

What does the Sexual Offences Act 2003 actually cover?

 

The first part of the Act covers sexual offences.

 

The second part of the Act covers offenders with an emphasis on the protection of vulnerable individuals.

 

The Act gives a full list of sex offences to protect individuals from abuse and exploitation. It is designed to be fair and non-discriminatory.

 

What, exactly, constitutes ‘Rape’?

 

Rape includes penetration of the mouth, vagina or anus by the penis.

 

What does ‘consent’ mean, in real terms?

 

Definitions of ‘consent’ are now intended to address the needs of victims without prejudicing the defendant’s right to a fair trial.

 

‘Consent’ is defined by law thus – a person consents if he or she agrees by choice to the sexual activity and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.

 

All the circumstances at the time of the offence will be looked at when deciding whether the defendant is reasonable in believing the complainant consented – for example, if there were threats, fear of serious harm, unconscious, drugged, abducted, or unable to communicate because of a physical disability.

 

What is the definition of ‘Child Sex Abuse’?  

 

Any sexual intercourse with a child under 13 will be treated as rape. No one accused of child rape can argue that the child consented. Other offences against children under the age of 13 are: sexual assault by penetration, sexual assault, and causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

 

There are new offences of sexual activity with a child under 16, covering a range of physical and non-physical contacts and behaviours.

 

Children and young persons under the age of 18 can be charged with sexual offences.

 

What is meant by the expression ‘grooming’?

 

Following increased use of the Internet, and on-line sexual approaches to children, there is a new offence of meeting a child following sexual grooming. It is a crime to befriend a child on the Internet, or by other means, and meet or intend to meet the child with the intention of abusing them. The maximum sentence is 10 years in prison.

 

What is a Sex Offender Preventative Order?

 

Convicted sex offenders have to report yearly to their local police station, inform the police quickly (within 3 days) of any change to their name or address, disclose if they spend 7 days or more away from home and supply their national insurance number. Failure to report is a criminal offence carrying a prison sentence of up to 5 years.

 

A Sex Offender Preventative Order (SOPO) can be imposed on anyone convicted of a serious violent offence if there is evidence that they pose a risk of causing serious sexual harm. The prohibitions of the order will vary in each case and are subject to the conditions of necessity and public protection. The order can be of a fixed period, but of not less than 5 years.

 

What other offences are covered by the 2003 Sexual Offences Act?

 

The Act also includes other offences against:-

 

  • trafficking persons for the purposes of sexual exploitation;
  • child abuse through prostitution and pornography;
  • sexual abuse of vulnerable persons with a mental disorder;
  • voyeurism, that criminalises those who watch for sexual gratification people engaged in a private act without their consent;
  • exposure, where a man or woman exposes their genitalia with intent to cause alarm or distress;
  • preparatory offences (i.e. drugging a person with intent to engage in sexual activity with that person);
  • committing any offence with intent to commit a sexual offence;
  • trespassing on any premises with intent to commit a sexual offence;
  • engaging in sexual activity in a public lavatory.

 

If you are being investigated for or charged with any sexual offences, you will need a specialist team of lawyers.  Forrest Williams are specialist sexual offence defence solicitors.  We can help.  Call us now.

 

Policing and Crime Bill 2015-16 and 2016-17

 

POLICING AND CRIME BILL 2015-16 AND 2016-17

What is the Policing and Crime Bill?

The Policing and Crime Bill is a public bill presented to Parliament by the Government.

MPs considered the Bill at Report Stage on Tuesday 26 April.  This was the first of two days of debate in the House of Commons.

What are the next steps?

MPs will debate the second day of the Report Stage followed by the Legislative Grand Committee and Third Reading on a date to be announced.

The House of Commons agreed a carry-over motion for this Bill on 7 March 2016.  This means that consideration of the Bill will be resumed in the 2016-17 session.

The Bill was given a formal First and Second Reading (no debate) on Thursday 19 May to reintroduce it in the 2016-17 session of Parliament. The Bill will be restarted at the point it reached in the last session

Summary of the Policing and Crime Bill 2015-16 and 2016-17:

The Policing and Crime Bill is intended:-

–      to make provision for collaboration between the emergency services;

–      to make provision about the handling of police complaints and other matters relating to police conduct and to make further provision about the Independent Police Complaints Commission;

–      to make provision for super-complaints about policing;

–      to make provision for the investigation of concerns about policing raised by whistle-blowers;

–      to make provision about police discipline;

–      to make provision about police inspection;

–      to make provision about the powers of police civilian staff and police volunteers;

–      to remove the powers of the police to appoint traffic wardens;

–      to enable provision to be made to alter police ranks;

–      to make provision about the Police Federation; to make provision in connection with the replacement of the Association of Chief Police Officers with the National Police Chiefs’ Council;

–      to make provision about the system for bail after arrest but before charge;

–      to make provision to enable greater use of modern technology at police stations;

–      to make other amendments to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984;

–      to amend the powers of the police under the Mental Health Act 1983;

–      to extend the powers of the police in relation to maritime enforcement;

–      to make provision about deputy police and crime commissioners;

–      to make provision to enable changes to the names of police areas; to make provision about the regulation of firearms;

–      to make provision about the licensing of alcohol;

–      to make provision about the implementation and enforcement of financial sanctions;

–      to amend the Police Act 1996 to make further provision about police collaboration;

–      to make provision about the powers of the National Crime Agency;

–      to make provision for requiring arrested persons to provide details of nationality;

–      to make provision for requiring defendants in criminal proceedings to provide details of nationality and other information;

–      to make provision to combat the sexual exploitation of children;

and for connected purposes.

 

 

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