Law Review: Supreme Court decision on sex offender register, CPS slows down recruitment of in-house advocates

The Sun reports, with remarkable restraint, unusually: A SUPREME Court ruling now allows convicted sex attackers to appeal to have their details removed from the register following complaints that it breached their human rights. Do you agree?

President of the Supreme Court Lord Phillips said the Sexual Offences Act, which set up the register, was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights because it did not allow for a review of individual cases.

BBC report

The decision of the Supreme Court may be read here

Lord Phillips:

57. I have referred earlier to a number of situations in which the degree of risk of re-offending has to be assessed in relation to sexual offenders. I think that it is obvious that there must be some circumstances in which an appropriate tribunal could reliably conclude that the risk of an individual carrying out a further sexual offence can be discounted to the extent that continuance of notification requirements is unjustified. As the courts below have observed, it is open to the legislature to impose an appropriately high threshold for review. Registration systems for sexual offenders are not uncommon in other jurisdictions. Those acting for the first respondent have drawn attention to registration requirements for sexual offenders in France, Ireland, the seven Australian States, Canada, South Africa and the United States. Almost all of these have provisions for review. This does not suggest that the review exercise is not practicable.

58. For these reasons I have concluded that the Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal were correct to find that the notification requirements constitute a disproportionate interference with article 8 rights because they make no provision for individual review of the requirements. I would dismiss this appeal and repeat the declaration of incompatibility made by the Divisional Court.

Scots Law Society boss rejects members’ decision over ‘Tesco law’

The Times reports: “Bitter divisions within the legal profession were laid bare last night when the President of the Law Society of Scotland (LSS) said he was “unable to accept” the emphatic vote of his members to oppose reforms of the legal system.”

The Law Society Gazette reports: CPS slows recruitment of in-house Crown advocates.

Figures obtained by the Gazette have revealed a steep decline in the Crown Prosecution Service’s recruitment of in-house Crown advocates as an alternative to self-employed barristers. CPS figures show that the number of Crown advocates in the CPS increased by only nine in 2009/10, to 1,086. Law Society Gazette

Interestingly, when I talked to Director of Public prosecutions Keir Starmer QC late last year in a podcast for my series with The College of Law Inside Track, Keir Starmer was bullish about his plans to recruit in-house expertise and be less reliant on the self employed Bar. The criminal bar is going through a period of great change, made more difficult by reductions in legal aid budgets, so this will be welcome news.  Serendipitously, I am due to record a podcast for the College of Law Inside Track with Nicholas Green QC, Chairman of The Bar.  I shall ask him if he welcomes this news. I rather suspect he will.

4 thoughts on “Law Review: Supreme Court decision on sex offender register, CPS slows down recruitment of in-house advocates

  1. No suprise here. The CPS who rarely can cobble any decent policy together had in the past adopted a ‘everybody has to be one’ policy which was clearly going to produce far too many bodies . Rather than a surgical quality service where small chamber like grouping of advocates would have ( and can still ) produce good results, the blunderbuss approach has clearly back-fired.

    There is no doubt that the CPS should be a big player in HC advocacy and eventually should be doing by far the majority- but not yet. What you haven’t got to forget is that the majority of CPS advocates are Barristers any how- so how the Bar can complain that it is doing them out of work I do not know. If the self employed Bar are whinging it is purely about self interest for them and little to do with the wider public interest.

  2. Wider public interest in this would be cost and quality.

    If I am not good enough on the case I am doing today, other counsel will be used next time. If I am ill or wishing to be on holiday tomorrow, other counsel will be used, and the public will simply not pay me.

    It will not serve my interests if the number of CPS advocates stays the same or retracts unless I am good enough for the work and cheap enough.

    I might ‘whinge’ that I am losing the opportunity to work because their now exists a protected competitor for whom quality and cost play second fiddle to the fact that they are employed, must be paid and therefore must be used.

    In fact I don’t ‘whinge’ as I am too busy, and the quality of the competition is so much reduced.


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