September 2013 articles archive:

Operation Nutmeg

Since the start of Operation Nutmeg about 111 out of 6,204 samples taken have been matched to a crime scene. Now an ex-prisoner has lost his legal challenge at the High Court against a request by police for him to provide DNA samples.

In April 2010, the Crime and Security Act 2010 received Royal Assent. This provided additional police powers allowing the police to take fingerprints and DNA samples for qualifying offences from convicted persons where none had been taken before. These new powers heralded the start of Operation Nutmeg in September 2012 and enabled police forces in England and Wales to obtain DNA samples from approximately 14,000 people convicted of specified qualifying offences including homicides, violent crimes and serious sexual assault. Under the Crime and Security Act police have the power to force offenders to provide a sample.

The offences they committed may well have taken place prior to 1994 and before DNA samples were taken as a matter of routine. Many of these offenders will have served their sentence and be living back in the community. The hope is that these new samples could be used to solve old cases which remain unsolved. The DNA details of over five million people are currently stored on the national database.

 

A pilot scheme which took place in Hampshire involved samples of DNA being taken from a number of convicted criminals, none of the swabs which were collected were able to be linked to any unsolved cases at that time but Ms Cooper, director of information, science and technology at Thames Valley Police, insisted it was "only a matter of time" before such a case was solved in England and Wales through the efforts of Operation Nutmeg.

Since the start of Operation Nutmeg about 1.78% of the samples (111 out of 6,204 samples) taken have been matched to a crime scene.

Now an ex-prisoner has lost his legal challenge at the High Court against a request by police for him to provide DNA samples. He does not dispute that he committed a serious crime in 1999 and had been jailed for manslaughter in the 1980s but says he has turned his life around since then and that his human rights had been breached. A pro-forma letter had been delivered to him because of his previous convictions and asked him to provide a DNA sample.

Lawyers for the ex-prisoner argued that the request infringed his human rights, but Lord Justice Pitchford, at the High Court, said the request was both "lawful and proportionate". The ex-prisoner, referred to as R, is considering whether he should appeal against the ruling.

The Association of Chief Police Officers welcomed the ruling and said DNA evidence was a "vital tool". If R's challenge had been successful the police could have been forced to destroy thousands of samples.

R v A Chief Constable [2013] EWHC 2864 (Admin) - British and Irish ..

ACPO Media Centre - ACPO comment on Operation Nutmeg

Ex-prisoner fails to halt police DNA-collection programme

 

Scotland and the EU

There is to be a vote on independence for Scotland on the 18 September 2014.

As a law student you may have mastered the complexities and niceties of EU law as it affects EU member states but this is no time to relax as a new dilemma now awaits you – the question of how Scottish independence affects the law? There is to be a vote on independence for Scotland on the 18 September 2014.

 

On one level you may be tempted to think that any problems are likely to be minimal as the law in Scotland is not the same as the law in England and Wales. It could be argued that the problem does not arise unless and until there is a successful vote in favour of independence. The issue however is one of certainty in the law and one can imagine that in a number of areas the law may be found wanting unless there is certainty as to the legal position. The doctrine of precedent is based on the need for certainty in the law and it is this certainty that leads to consistency and fairness . Most law students can rely upon the syllabus for the law course they are following but, for those with wider interests, that is no consolation and many may well want answers to questions well before the time of the vote.

 

So what do we know? The Scottish government has said it expects to negotiate membership of the EU. Others may argue that this is rather presumptuous and overlooks the possibility that negotiations may be necessary and that this in itself would be a responsibility that goes with the territory so to speak..

 

There are many questions which remain unanswered including such issues as the role of a Supreme Court. Currently the Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal in relation to Scottish civil cases. In Scottish criminal cases, however, the High Court of Justiciary sitting as an appeal court is the final court of appeal with the exception that the Supreme Court may consider 'devolution issues' arising in Scottish criminal cases

 

This may be interesting food for debate but what happens to commercial and contractual arrangements in the meantime? Are they to continue unaffected? Are they to be subject to some transitional measures? If so, how are these to be determined and by whom?

 

UK Supreme Court

Role of The Supreme Court - The Supreme Court

Scottish Courts

Supreme Court Review Group - Scottish Government

UK Europe minister: independent Scotland's EU membership could ...

Law Society wants clarity on Scotland's future with the EU | UK …

Call for governments to reveal legal advice on Scotland's EU status ...



 

Memorising legal cases.

Just starting a law course but worried about remembering the cases?

Many of you will be starting law courses soon or you may already have done so. At some point you will encounter your first reported law case and you may wonder how you will remember the case name and what it is about. Don't worry, all law students have concerns about such things. Listen to your tutor and heed their advice but, most of all, think of why you are studying law and why law is important to you and adopt a plan or strategy for managing your case notes and materials.

 

Doing nothing and not using your notes or textbooks is not an option for success. It is important that you not only adopt a strategy but adopt one which is right for you. Don't put off taking practical steps now, you will only make matters worse and end up not being able to remember anything except one or two cases at best!

 

There are lots of resources online and in books. These resources include suggestions as to how to remember the case names and how to link key cases to topics and legal principles. There are a variety of methods including graphics and humorous images, word association and flash cards. Have a look and try them out before deciding upon your own plan or strategy. Don't forget it sometimes helps to work with someone else so that you can 'quiz' each other. The more you work at it the easier it gets.

 

English legal system: essential cases and material

Key cases the English legal system

Criminal law (key cases)

Tort law (key cases) (paperback)

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