Tag Archives: offence

Successful appeal against football banning order

Nottingham based solicitor advocate Graham Heathcote was recently instructed by a client to appeal the imposition of a football banning order imposed at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court.

The History of the case

football banning order
Solicitor advocate Graham Heathcote

Our client appeared before the Nottingham Youth Court for assaulting a police office in the execution of his duty and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

This followed an incident at the bar close to Notts County’s Meadow Lane ground.  This was prior to the County v Coventry League 2 match.

The bar had chosen not to exclude Coventry City supporters on that day.  An hour before the match the police were called to eject some Coventry fans who were being unruly and disruptive.   Door staff had been unable to cope with the hostile group in the bar, and a smoke bomb had been let off inside.

Police also entered the terrace area of the bar to eject a male who had been aggressive towards the officers themselves. He complied with a request to leave but our client had client pushed the officer and attempted to strike him.

During the struggle to arrest our client, the officer felt pain in his right finger.  It was subsequently found to be broken.

Our client had entered a guilty plea in the Youth Court and as it was his first conviction received a referral order.  Unfortunately the court also imposed a football banning order preventing him from attending football matches within the UK.

It did not appear, however, that this was a football related offence and as a result our client decided to appeal the decision to impose the football banning order to Nottingham Crown Court.

 Advice and representation at appeal

football banning order
Trainee solicitor and litigator Freddie sails

In order to impose a football banning order it must be shown that the criminal offence was “football related.” The argument in this case was that the incident was unconnected to football.  Instead it was an incident that arose  upon the police attempting to remove people from a bar.

Upon a close examination of the evidence it was clear that this argument had merit.  As a result, Graham Heathcote represented our client at appeal, instructed by litigator Freddie Sail.

The appeal was opposed by the prosecution. The prosecutor maintained, as they had in the Youth Court, that the criteria for a football banning order had been met.  As a result it had been properly imposed.

Football banning order removed

Having considered the evidence and Graham’s representations the Crown Court judge and Magistrates agreed.  The appeal was successful and the football banning order was removed.

Our client was obviously delighted and could continue to attend football matches unobstructed.

Contact one of our football law specialists

If you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about a football related offence then make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice.

The advantages of such early advice legal advice can be found here.

If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case.

Legal aid may well be available to fund your defence at court.

We have offices across the East Midlands and will happily travel across the country to provide representation for all football related offences.

VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands


Alternatively you can contact us using the form below.


Drones and the Law – What you need to know

Drones and the Law

Unsurprisingly, here is a legal framework that governs the use of drones.  A number of different drones are available for the public to buy.  There are a number of potential risks to ownership, and it would be helpful for any owner to know the relevant information about drones and the law, including an owner’s responsibilities and restrictions on their use.

Drones are again making the news with stories of substantial flight disruptions caused by drones being flown close to airports or the steps being taken to stop drones flying contraband into prison.

What are drones?

A ‘Drone’ is any object that can be flown without a human pilot. The definition ranges from armed technologies used in military operations to smaller gadgets that any of us can buy.

drones and the lawIt is the second category that will be the focus of this article. These items are controlled remotely from either a handset or mobile phone.  They may also have a camera attached which provides a live-feed to the controller or can take still photography.

At their best they provide educational, professional and leisure pursuits. Various models are available which will vary in size, speed, range and price.

When do drones become a problem?

Drones become a problem when they interfere with other objects using the same airspace. For example, they can present a problem for both military and civilian aircraft. Although they are of relatively small size, a collision can have disastrous consequences. Such incidents are most likely to happen when drones are flown too high or too close to areas where aircraft are taking off and landing frequently.

What are the rules?

If you have bought a drone for personal use, then law imposes some responsibilities relating to your use of that drone.  Any breach of these duties can result in your prosecution.

drones and the lawIt is advisable to consult the Civilian Aviation Authority Air Navigation Order 2016, specifically Articles 94, 95 and 241.  You can download the ‘Drone Code’ here.

You must understand your essential duties as a drone owner, many of which are common sense:

  • know how to fly your drone safely, and do so within the law
  • understand that the operator is legally responsible for every flight
  • keep your drone in sight at all times – stay below 400ft or 120m
  • don’t fly your drone over or within 150m of a congested area or organised open air assemblies of more than 1000 people
  • never fly within 50 metres of a person, vehicle or building not under your control
  • ensure any images you obtain using the drone do not break privacy laws
  • avoid collisions – you should never fly a drone near an airport or close to aircraft.

One important aspect of drones and the law is that it is a criminal offence to endanger the safety of any aircraft in flight.

If you break the rules, you could threaten lives and also face prosecution.  In some cases this can result in imprisonment or a substantial fine.

For example, anybody caught breaching the rules in relation to airport boundaries could be charged with ‘recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft’ and face a fine of up to £2500 or up to 5 years in prison.

Are there extra rules when using drones for commercial purposes?

It may be that you intend to use a drone for commercial purposes.  For example, an estate agent might wish to take aerial video or photographs of properties for sale.

If this is the case then then permission must be sought from the Civilian Aviation Authority. It is also expected that you will attend an accredited course which will test your knowledge of and competence with drones.

drones and the law

What about cross-overs into the military’s use of drones?

Any drone use completed for the Ministry of Defence is regulated by the Military Aviation Authority.  This might include tasks such as surveys at height, photography and other multimedia activities.  Anyone likely to undertake such work should look at Regulatory Articles 1600, 2320 and 2321 for specific requirements.

New government plans

Over the summer of 2018 the Government launched a public consultation on new proposals that include:

  • whether the 1km flight restriction around aerodromes is sufficient
  • police issuing fixed penalty notices to people flouting drone laws
  • new counter-drone technology to protect public events and critical national infrastructure, as well as stopping contraband reaching prisons
  • a minimum age requirement of 18 to be a small drone operator
  • apps upon which flight plans would be uploaded prior to take-off

Fixed penalty notices may be introduced for the following offences:

  • not producing proof of registration at the request of a police constable
  • not producing evidence that a flight plan or other permissions had been obtained or submitted
  • not complying with a police request to land a drone
  • flying a drone without the necessary competency

Drone users in the UK will have to register with the CAA and take online safety awareness tests from November 2019 for drones weighing at least 250g. A failure do do so could lead to a fine of up to £1000.

Drones weighing more than 250g could also be banned from flying near airports, or above 400 ft, in a crackdown on unsafe flying.

Police will also be given new powers to seize and ground drones which may have been used in criminal activity.

The bottom line

Drones can be fun and useful but come with their fair share of responsibilities. If you follow the principles highlighted above, you will be much less likely to fall foul of the rules and regulations governing this exciting new technology.

If, however, you are to be spoken to by any authority for breach of the rules and regulations then you ought to seek advice.  Any interview is likely to be with the intention of considering whether a prosecution ought to be brought before the court.

We offer independent legal advice on drones and the law for such interviews whether in or out of office hours.  Your nearest office can be found here although we provide our services nationwide.

drones and the law
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

Alternatively you can use the contact form below.


I have received a postal requisition – what should I do?

Since the change in the rules relating to police bail a postal requisition has, in many cases, replaced a formal police charge in bringing a defendant to court.

What is a postal requisition?

postal requisitionA postal requisition is a summons to court, telling a defendant what they have been charged with.  It will also contain the date and time that you must attend a particular Magistrates’ Court.

They will be used in cases where the police do not seek bail conditions.  They will be appropriate where there is no language or communication problems and there is a known fixed address for the defendant.


When will I receive one?

Although a postal requisition will be used in motoring offences in a similar way that a summons would have been issued, they are also used for a wide range of criminal offences including the most serious.

As a result, if you have been interviewed by the police as either a volunteer or while under arrest and been released under investigation the first thing you hear about the outcome of the investigation might be the postal requisition.

Unfortunately, the timing of the requisition will be hard to predict.  It could be received within weeks of a police interview, or months afterwards.

What happens if I don’t attend court?

If you fail to attend court in answer to the postal requisition then it is likely that a warrant without bail will be issued for your immediate arrest.  This means that the police will arrest and detain you at a police station in order to bring you before the next available sitting Magistrates’ Court.  This could be on a Saturday or Bank Holiday and you could spend many hours in custody.

Bearing in mind the possible delay in sending the requisition it is extremely important that you check your post regularly and keep the police informed of any change of address to avoid an unnecessary arrest.

postal requisition
A helpful reminder outside our Chesterfield office

If we have provided you with free and independent legal advice in your police interview then we will make regular contact with the police to ensure that you know what is happening with the investigation.  We will be able to keep the police informed on your behalf of any changes of address.  We will also be able to tell you when the investigation has been concluded and if you are likely to have to go to court.

Even if we have not advised you in interview, please feel free to contact us afterwards.  We will be able to advise you on the likelihood of further interviews, and provide the same service to you as we would to those who we represented in interview.

What should I do if I receive a postal requisition?

Hopefully you will have already taken advantage of our free and independent legal advice at the police station so in those circumstances simply contact the lawyer at this firm who dealt with your case.

We will be able to provide you with advice as to the availability of criminal legal aid or discuss private funding with you.  We will also be able to make a request for the papers in your case prior to the first hearing and begin to take instructions and advise you as to plea.

postal requisition
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

This will ensure that you have representation at this all important first hearing and will have investigated any defence that you might wish to put forward.

If you did not have representation in interview or this was from a different solicitor, then we will still be more than happy to receive your instructions in your case.  Please contact your nearest office when you receive the postal requisition.

Alternatively you can use the contact form below:


Defending an allegation of parental chastisement

Laws that criminalise unlawful violence date back to 1861 and are used every day in criminal courts to support prosecutions.  Do they criminalise parental chastisement?

Despite what might appear to be an obvious legal position, the question is often asked as to whether, despite those laws, it is permissible to ‘smack’ a child.

The simple answer is that it is lawful to chastise a child by smacking, although the extent of that provision needs explaining in an attempt to make the legal position on parental chastisement clearer.

parental chastisementPerhaps surprising to many is the fact that the UK is only one of two places in the European Union that permits this state of affairs.  The other country is the Czech Republic.

Earlier this year the devolved government in Wales launched a consultation, with proposals to outlaw all smacking of children.  The consultation closed on 2 April 2018 and a response is awaited.

The minister for children and social care said:

“Our knowledge of what children need to grow and thrive has developed considerably over the last 20 years. We now know that physical punishment can have negative long-term impacts on a child’s life chances and we also know it is an ineffective punishment.

While physically punishing children was accepted as normal practice in previous generations, we know that it is increasingly being seen as less acceptable and parents feel less comfortable.

We want parents in Wales to be confident in managing their children’s behaviour without feeling they must resort to physical punishment. If there is any potential risk of harm to a child, then it is our obligation as a government to take action. Legislation was introduced many years ago to stop physical punishment in schools and childcare settings – now is the time to ensure it is no longer acceptable anywhere.”

The move in Wales follows similar developments in Scotland last October about parental chastisement, which resulted in the children’s commissioners of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland calling for a ban on smacking children.

parental chastisementAttitudes to parenting practices have also changed. While physically punishing children was accepted as normal practice in previous generations, research shows parents today are increasingly using positive approaches which are proven to be more effective, while feeling less comfortable about using physical punishment.  In 1998, for example, 88% of British adults agreed that “it is sometimes necessary to smack a naughty child” while in 2015 only 24% of parents in Wales supported this statement.

Despite this shift in attitude, at the moment there are no plans to change the law as it applies in England.

What does the law allow in relation to parental chastisement?

The law allows an assault on a child provided that it constitutes ‘reasonable punishment’.

Section 58 Children Act 2004 states however that this defence cannot apply to the more serious charges of violence starting with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and those more serious.

What is ‘reasonable punishment’?

The concept of ‘reasonable punishment’ has its origins in Victorian times. The case that established the legally accepted definition was R v Hopley (1860).

In this case, a boy was beaten by a schoolmaster with the permission of the child’s father.  The beating led to the death of the child.

During the trial, the presiding judge, Chief Justice Cockburn, stated that:

“A parent or a schoolmaster, who for this purpose represents the parent and has the parental authority delegated to him, may for the purpose of correcting what is evil in the child inflict moderate and reasonable corporal punishment, always, however, with this condition, that it is moderate and reasonable.”

This case established in law reasonable punishment as a defence for those parents, carers or other responsible adults – such as teachers – who were charged with the criminal offence of assault on children.

parental chastisementThe use of corporal punishment was commonplace in schools until the 1980s.  From 1986, however, the UK Parliament increasingly restricted the use of corporal punishment, prohibiting it in all state maintained schools in 1987 and in independent schools in 1999. Its use was ended in children’s homes in 2001, Local Authority foster care in 2002 and in childcare provision in 2007.

The question of whether the punishment is ‘moderate and reasonable’ will be for a court to decide on the facts of any individual case.

It is fair to say, however, that any punishment that results in more than transient or trifling injury (leaves a mark or bruise for example), is likely to fall outside of this defence. It is therefore important than parents find other mechanisms to deal with children who might at times be very challenging.

How we can assist in allegations of unlawful parental chastisement

Such allegations will always be treated seriously and the law is complicated.  As a result, if you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about an offence then make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice.

The advantages of such early advice legal advice can be found here.

If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case.  Legal aid may well be available to fund your defence at court.

We have offices across the East Midlands.  You can find your most convenient office here.   Alternatively you can contact us using the form below.

parental chastisement
VHS Fletchers solicitors East Midlands offices