Archive for November 2014
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the body given the statutory mandate to challenge discrimination, and to protect and promote human rights. As it states on its website:
“We live in a country with a long history of upholding people’s rights, valuing diversity and challenging intolerance. The EHRC seeks to maintain and strengthen this heritage while identifying and tackling areas where there is still unfair discrimination or where human rights are not being respected.”
To get a clearer idea about how the Commission goes about its work, I have been talking to Nony Ardill, a Senior Lawyer with the Commission. She provides a fascinating account of the ways in which the Commission works with other agencies to fulfill its (very challenging) mandate.
To hear the podcast, go to http://global.oup.com/uk/orc/law/els/partington14_15/student/podcasts/NonyArdill.mp3
To read more about the work of the Commission, go to http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/
The Government has recently announced that it is launching a new pilot scheme that will significantly change the way in which out of court disposals for those accused of criminal activity are dealt with.
It is already the case that the use of out-of-court disposals overall has decreased in recent years. Thus in the 12 months to the end of March 2014, there were 391,171 given, comprising 235,323 cautions, 77,933 cannabis warnings and 77,915 penalty notices for disorder. This compares to 522,133 out-of-court disposals given in the 12 months to the end of March 2010.
The new scheme – which does not affect penalty notices for disorder – will comprise:
- a new statutory community resolution – aimed at first-time offenders. This will be used to resolve minor offences through an agreement with the offender. It will empower victims, giving them a say in how they want the offender to be dealt with. It could see an offender offering a verbal or written apology to the victim, making reparation (which can include fixing material damages) or paying financial compensation;
- a suspended prosecution – designed to tackle more serious offending. This will allow the police to attach 1 or more conditions to the disposal which must be reparative, rehabilitative and/or punitive in nature. It could see the offender receiving a punitive fine or attending a course designed to rehabilitate him or her and reduce the likelihood of re-offending
Under this new two-tier framework, offenders would have to take steps to comply with the disposal, rather than just accepting a warning, which is often the case with the current system. If they fail to comply, they will risk being prosecuted for the original offence.
The pilot scheme will operate in three polic areas for 12 months and will be assessed before a decision is taken on whether to roll out the framework nationally.
For further information, see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/putting-an-end-to-soft-option-cautions
Mediation is the Government’s preferred option for resolving family disputes. The Government has recently announced that, from 3 November 2014, the first mediation meeting will be free to both parties, so long as at least one of the parties to the dispute is in receipt of legal aid.
In addition, from January 1 2015 there will be a third stage in the government’s work to improve mediation and encourage separating couples to use it to resolve disputes. From the beginning of the New Year, the Family Mediation Council (FMC) is introducing a compulsory accreditation scheme and new professional standards which all mediators must work toward. All mediators and those working towards becoming a family mediator will be required to be registered with the FMC. The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is funding the preparation work and costs of implementing the new standards.
These announcements follow recommendations from the Family Mediation Taskforce.
The report of the Family Mediation Taskforce report, published in June 2014, can be found by googling Family Mediation Taskforce.