UK Liberty


Posted in law and order by ukliberty on May 6, 2008

The Telegraph:

A convicted drugs criminal has escaped an order to have up to £4.5 million of his assets confiscated because no legal aid barrister would take on the case. …

The Crown Prosecution Service estimated that his criminal lifestyle had netted him £4.5 million, but were seeking to confiscate £1.5 million in the first instance.

In short his assets were frozen so he was unable to hire a barrister using his personal wealth.  But no qualified barrister would take on the case because legal aid (to which the defendant is now entitled) doesn’t pay enough.

The judge suggested that a less qualified barrister could take the case on but Mr Versfeld pointed out that it was contrary to the Bar’s code of conduct for a barrister to accept instructions on a case that he or she was not experienced in.

Therefore the defendant won his appeal to set aside the confiscation order for £1.5m.

The case has highlighted the inadequacy of funding regulations, introduced in October 2005, which introduced a fixed scale of fees.

It also exposed the “draconian” provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 under which offenders convicted of a drugs-related offence faced having assets seized that could in theory be counted as gained from a “criminal lifestyle”.

“So although this defendant was convicted of offences only involving a few hundred pounds’ worth of cannabis, he found himself at risk of losing £4.5 million worth of assets – with the burden on him to prove that they were not ill-gotten gains. On top of that, he was prohibited from using those assets for his own defence,” Mr Versfeld said.

CCTV doesn’t work as well as we thought

Posted in surveillance society by ukliberty on May 6, 2008

The Guardian:

Massive investment in CCTV cameras to prevent crime in the UK has failed to have a significant impact, despite billions of pounds spent on the new technology, a senior police officer piloting a new database has warned. Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe.

Use of CCTV images for court evidence has so far been very poor, according to Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville, the officer in charge of the Metropolitan police unit. “CCTV was originally seen as a preventative measure,” Neville told the Security Document World Conference in London. “Billions of pounds has been spent on kit, but no thought has gone into how the police are going to use the images and how they will be used in court. It’s been an utter fiasco: only 3% of crimes were solved by CCTV. There’s no fear of CCTV. Why don’t people fear it? [They think] the cameras are not working.”

More training was needed for officers, he said. Often they do not want to find CCTV images “because it’s hard work”. Sometimes the police did not bother inquiring beyond local councils to find out whether CCTV cameras monitored a particular street incident.

Pope “Catholic”:

[Cheshire deputy chief constable Graham Gerrard] said that there were discussions with biometric companies “on a regular basis” about developing the technology to search digitised databases and match suspects’ images with known offenders. “Sometimes when they put their [equipment] in operational practice, it’s not as wonderful as they said it would be, ” he said. “I suspect [Find] has been put on hold until the technology matures. Before you can digitise every offender’s image you have to make sure the lighting is right and it’s a good picture. It’s a major project. We are still some way from a national database. There are still ethical and technical issues to consider.”

Yet another unlawful immigration rule

Posted in law and order, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on May 6, 2008

The BBC:

There is likely to be tough competition for junior doctor posts this year after a bid to give UK-trained medics priority in applying for jobs failed.

Ministers in England wanted overseas doctors to be appointed only if suitable UK medics were not available.

It would have meant that the thousands of overseas doctors who came to work in the NHS in recent years to plug gaps in the service would have been penalised.

But the restrictions were ruled unlawful by the House of Lords. …

Let’s have more transparency in lobbying

Posted in freedom of information by ukliberty on May 6, 2008

The Register:

The Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has lost an appeal to keep secret its meetings with business lobbying group the Confederation of British Industry.

The case has dragged on for three years and originally concerned secret meetings between the CBI and BERR, which was formerly known as the Department of Trade and Industry. …