Tag Archives: police

Policing public protests and protest law

Recent news coverage suggests that the Metropolitan Police  will be pushing for the prosecution of the more than 1,100 people arrested during last month’s Extinction Rebellion protests.

The environmental protests across London caused massive disruption in certain parts of the city. There is a risk that they may be set to spread across other towns and cities over the coming weeks and months.

Public protest has always been a legitimate and important part of the democratic process.  As such, these rights are enshrined in law.

An important question remains, howver.  How do the police balance the right to protest against the rights of other people to go about their lives unimpeded?

protest law

Why have people been protesting?

Extinction Rebellion has organised the protests.   This is a group concerned about the environmental destruction of our planet.

Frustrated that other attempts to force change in governmental behaviour have failed, they have resorted to a new form of peaceful protest.  On its website the group claims:

‘Civil disobedience works when it’s peaceful, respectful, disruptive and undertaken en masse. We don’t want to disrupt people, but our Government’s failure over the last 30 years leaves us no choice. If we had functioning democracies, we wouldn’t need to. We’ve tried petitions, marches, letters, reports, papers, meetings, even direct actions; and emissions have continued to rise. Governments prioritise the short term interests of the economic elites, so to get their attention, we have to disrupt the economy. They have left us with no other option.’

 In London the protesters blocked major roads and bridges, leading to significant chaos and disruption.

What was the police response?

The Metropolitan Police set out the dilemma during the protest in this way:

‘The serious disruption the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations are causing to people in central London and beyond is unacceptable and we completely understand the concern it is causing to those who are disrupted by it.

 Ultimately, the Met has a duty to balance the rights of those engaged in protest and who are acting within the law, against the needs and rights of Londoners to go about their daily lives with minimum disruption. Where people are not acting within the law we continue to arrest them, and we anticipate arrests continuing to rise. We are also working closely with partner agencies, Transport for London, British Transport Police, City of London Police, City of Westminster and the Mayor’s Office, as well as the business community.

 …we will have had more than 1,000 officers on the streets policing the demonstrations. This is putting a strain on the Met and we have now asked officers on the boroughs to work 12-hour shifts; we have cancelled rest days and our Violent Crime Task Force (VCTF) have had their leave cancelled. This allows us to free up significant numbers of officers whilst responding to local policing. We would also like to reassure people that we have ring-fenced the VCTF so we retain the capacity to deal with any unrelated violent incidents.

However, the protesters need to understand that their demonstration is meaning officers are being diverted away from their core local duties that help keep London safe and that this will have implications in the weeks and months beyond this protest as officers take back leave and the cost of overtime.’

Was anyone being arrested?

 It is an almost unique feature of this protest that people are aware of the risk of arrest and were willing to be arrested – this ironically presents an incredibly difficult policing challenge.

On this issue the police said at one stage:

‘…we have arrested more than 460 people, the large majority for breach of Section 14 [of the Public Order Act 1986) and obstruction of the highway. Of those arrested, so far eight people have been charged with those offences. At this stage it is better for us to keep our resources and custody capacity moving and flexible than leave protesters sitting in cells for up to 12 hours before going to court for what, although highly disruptive, are lower level offences.

So everyone else arrested has been released under investigation and will be brought back to be formally interviewed and charged as appropriate in due course. We are aware that means some protesters immediately return to the area to resume their activities; those people will be arrested again.’ (By Saturday 20th April the number of arrests had risen to almost 800, and eventually to over 1100).

Will all those people be prosecuted?

Although this still remains to be seen, it is clear that the police wish all those they believe to have been involved in illegal activities to face court proceedings.  This in turn could lead to any number of contested prosecutions that would in turn place an immense strain on the criminal justice system.

As a result, many commentators think that those released under investigation will face no further action.

Are there any legal defences to these charges?

There are several defences potentially available.  The right to protest peacefully is not an absolute one.  Case law is generally unhelpful. There are some developing areas of legal challenge and these are the ones that defence lawyers will be concentrating their efforts on. Law is a living instrument and must develop as society responds to concerns such as the ones raised by these protesters.

We anticipate that there will be a good number of legal challenges flowing from these protests.

People must, however, be prepared to face arrest, prosecution and possibly a criminal record and must individually decide whether that is a price worth paying.

Contact a specialist in protest law

protest law solicitor
Kevin Tomlinson

Our staff have a wealth of experience dealing with a wide range of protest law related offences.

Chesterfield crime solicitor David Gittins recently successfully defended an individual in a multi-defendant trial charged with anti-fracking protests.

Gavin Haigh

Both Kevin Tomlinson and Gavin Haigh continue to be contacted by members of protest groups in order to advise and assist individuals across the country.

Rob Lowe

Clients are impressed with the dedication of both Gavin and Kevin to their defence.  We have a willingness to visit the site of any allegations where necessary.

David Gittins

On occasion this has included standing up to landowners who attempt in intimidate them and hinder the preparation of cases.  Their representation of individuals means that they are regularly recommended within the Protest Community.

Protest law is an exceptionally complicated area of law but our solicitors David, Kevin, Gavin who are ably assisted by Chesterfield accredited police station representative Rob Lowe have a history of successfully representing people accused following a wide range of protests including:

  • Anti-fur protests
  • Anti-hunt protestors
  • Aggravated trespass offences
  • Protecting Badger Setts
  • Obstruction of the Highway offences
  • Anti-fracking protests
  • Animal right activists
  • climate change protests
  • international law and human rights protests, such against use of certain plant machinery in palestine

The types of cases dealt with include:

  • aggravated trespass
  • obstruction of highway
  • s241 TULRA 1992 (
  • s 14 Public Order Act (conditions on assemblies and processions)
  • criminal damage
  • public order offences

Advice in police interview is always be FREE OF CHARGE and our attendance will always be of value to you.

If you face proceedings before the Magistrates’ or Crown Court it may well be that legal aid is available to assist with your representation.

Please contact our Chesterfield office on 01246 387999 for expert protest law advice 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

protest law
VHS Fletchers Chesterfield



The Christmas drink drive campaign – more stops, more prosecutions

None for The Road – the Christmas drink drive campaign

With Halloween and Bonfire Night behind us it now won’t be long before Christmas is in our sights and the Christmas party season gets underway. It means that it is now time for the Christmas drink drive campaigns from your local police forces.

We will now all be familiar with the national police initiative that coincides with this time of year. Once again the police will be targeting drink driving.   Forces across the country prepare for a christmas drink drive campaignspike in the numbers of those tested and arrested for drink driving and drug driving offences.  This in part is due to an increase in police patrols dedicated to seeking out drink drivers and part as a result of the time of the year.

The more visible presence is in order to deter those who may think about drinking and driving.

The impact of a drink drive conviction

People may not view these offences as particularly serious when judged against other types of offences.  What is not often understood is the very real impact that the consequences of a drink drive conviction can have.

Research shows that the loss of a driving licence leads, in a great many cases, to loss of employment. This in turn can lead to a loss of housing as bills cannot be paid.  Sometimes a disqualification from driving could be the final straw that breaks a relationship. The financial costs flowing from a driving ban will be felt for many years thereafter.   Insurance premiums will be greatly increased.

Driving the morning after

christmas drink drive campaignAs experienced road traffic solicitors we also see a great many people who come before the courts with alcohol readings that are not particularly high.  This might be where offences have been detected the ‘morning after’.  In such cases, offences can be said to have been committed perhaps more out of ignorance than due to a wilful disregard for the safety of others.

A single error of judgment can have devastating consequences.

What is a safe level of drinking if I propose to drive?

No alcohol at all is the safest approach to adopt.  It ensures that when a driver gets behind the wheel, their reactions will not be christmas drink drive campaignimpaired to any degree at all.

Crucially it also prevents the driver getting the guesswork wrong as to how much can be drunk before a person is over the limit.  It is this mistake that brings so many people before the courts.

There are urban myths in circulation such as ‘2 pints are ok’.  These have long since been proved to be false, as have back of the envelope calculations as to how long it takes alcohol to leave the body.  Sleeping of a heavy drinking session will not speed up the rate at which alcohol leaves your body.  A big meal may slow down the rate at which you absorb alcohol, but you will end up with the same amount of alcohol in your system.

Different people will deal with alcohol in different ways.  This can even vary for one person depending on a multitude of factors.  Merely feeling okay to drive is not a reliable indicator as to whether a driver is below the legal limit or not.

As we get merry, we reach a tipping point.  We can make foolish choices that will prove costly, sometimes not just measured in financial terms but in injury and even loss of life.

Think, before you drink, before you drive.

You do not hear a lawyer say this often – but we do not wish to see you this Christmas as a result of the Christmas drink drive campaign.

christmas drink drive campaign legal advice

How we can assist with your drink drive case

If you do make a mistake and find yourself in trouble, there is a lot we can do to assist you.

The police must follow complex procedures to establish a case against you.  Our lawyers will be able to analyse the evidence to ensure that the procedures have been followed.  We can successfully challenge the evidence in your case.

A road traffic solicitor can also investigate issues such as ‘laced drinks’ which can raise the opportunity to avoid disqualification.  We will also consider other ‘special reasons’ that could be raised on your behalf.  This might include the shortness of distance that was driven.

Well-presented mitigation can make a real difference to the outcome. Even where a disqualification cannot be avoided, we can often achieve a reduction in length.

Legal aid might be available dependent upon your means and the circumstances of your case.  Alternatively, you will be able to fund your case through an affordable fixed fee.

Contact one of our drink drive solicitors at your nearest office if you are being investigated by the police or taken to court as a result of the Christmas drink drive campaign.  They will, of course, be able to discuss and other driving matters that you face.

Alternatively you can use the contact form below to ask for a call about your case.





Knife crime prevention orders

Earlier this year, Channel 4 found, after analysing Freedom of Information request responses from 29 out of 43 police forces, that the number of police-recorded offenders aged under 18 committing homicides using a knife or sharp instrument rose by 77% from 26 to 46 from 2016 to 2018.

The number of people who have died so far this year from knife crime has reached 100.

The Home Office has responded with a number of measures including an extra £970m for policing in 2019-2020.

As is generally the case, the government has proposing supposedly tough new legislation to deal with offenders caught with a knife.  This legislation is now on the statute book and you can read more here.

This includes a new Knife Crime Prevention Order, or a ‘Knife Asbo’, as it is already being called.

knife crime prevention orders

What is a Knife Crime Prevention Order?

It is proposed that anyone aged 12 or over can be subject to a knife crime prevention order if:

  • they are found to be carrying, without good reason, a bladed article in a public place (including a school) twice in a period of two years, and
  • the court believes it is necessary to impose and order to protect the public or prevent the young person from committing a crime with a bladed article.

Applications for knife protection orders can only be made by chief police officers, or the chief constable of the British Transport Police or the Ministry of Defence Police.

Before making the application, if the defendant is under the age of 18, the relevant person must consult with the Youth Offending Team for the area that the young person lives in.

The Knife Crime Prevention Order can require that a person:

  • is in a particular place on specified days or between particular times
  • reports to a specified individual on specified days and times
  • participates in specific activities.

It can also prohibit the person from:

  • being in particular places
  • being with particular people
  • taking part in specified activities
  • using or having specified articles with them
  • using the internet to facilitate or encourage crimes using bladed articles.

A Knife crime prevention order would last between six months and two years. Breach of the order would result in:

  • on summary conviction, imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, a fine or to both
  • on conviction on indictment, imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, a fine or to both

knife crime prevention order



Will knife crime prevention orders work?

A great many people, including the Magistrates’ Association, have expressed doubts as to whether these new orders will do anything to address the complex root problems of offending.

Instruct a criminal law specialist

The lawyers at VHS Fletchers continuously monitor new develops in criminal law, as even government proposals can sometimes trigger changes in judicial behaviour when it comes to bail and sentencing. It is our job to ensure the law that is in force now is appropriately applied.

We also play a vital role in challenging the boundaries of new legislation and will be keeping a close watch on these draconian knife crime prevention orders to ensure that justice is appropriately done in all cases.

If you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about any offending involving a weapon then make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice.  The courts will always take such offences seriously upon conviction.

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.


What are the police powers to stop and search you?

The power of the police to stop and search is currently in the media due to the rise in murders and serious crimes of violence involving the use of knives, particularly in London. A particular area of concern is the disproportionate use of search powers in relation to some minority groups.

So, what are the relevant powers?

stop and search

Section 1 Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

The most commonly used power to search people is under section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. This section allows searches if an officer has reasonable grounds to suspect a person of carrying drugs, weapons, stolen property or an item that can be used to commit crime.

What must the officer do under Section 1?

In order for a search to be lawful, the officer needs to inform you of his name and police station, and he can use reasonable force to carry out the search. You may be detained for the search, near to where you were stopped and only for a short time. You must be told why you are being searched and under what power and a record of the search should be made.

Section 60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

This power has been used recently by London councils in response to the murders taking place. Section 60 allows the police to search anyone in a specified area without the need for the “reasonable grounds” that are required for a search under Section 1 above. The vast majority of searches under this power are carried out by the Metropolitan police.

How are section 60 searches authorised?

An officer of inspector rank or above can authorise searches within an area for up to 24 hours. He can only do so if he reasonably believes that:

  • incidents of serious violence may take place and an authorisation is required to prevent their occurrence; or
  • an incident of serious violence has taken place, a dangerous instrument or offensive weapon is being carried, and authorisation is required to find it; or
  • persons are carrying dangerous weapons or offensive weapons without good reason.

stop and search

Sections 47A Terrorism Act 2000

This section allows the police to conduct searches where there is a reasonable suspicion that an act of terrorism will occur. The power had not been used extensively until the terrorist attacks that started to take place in 2017.

How are section 47A searches authorised?

A senior police officer can give an authorisation for searches in a specified area if he reasonably suspects that an act of terrorism will take place and reasonably considers that the authorisation is necessary to prevent such an act. Also, the specified area has to be no greater than necessary and the duration no longer than necessary to prevent such an act.

Under this authorisation an officer may stop and search a vehicle, driver, passenger, pedestrians (including anything carried by them) but only for the purpose of discovering whether there is anything which may constitute evidence of use for terrorism or that the person is a terrorist.

Stop and search – how can we help?

The above information represents only a basic and brief outline of the relevant law about stop and search. We can advise you on the legality of any search and/or the admissibility of any evidence found during the search.

stop and search

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 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.

 You can find your nearest office here.

grievous bodily harm
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

Alternatively you can use the contact form below:



Fireworks and the Law – how to avoid trouble

Fireworks and the Law

fireworks and the lawAs Bonfire Night approaches families will be looking forward to enjoying the displays.  These might be in the garden or an organised display.  While the night sky is brought alive by the vibrant explosions of noise and colour there remains. lurking in the background, a risk that failing to deal with fireworks safely and responsibly could bring an individual to the attention of the police and the courts.  The issue of fireworks and the law can be complex, with regulations changing regularly.

It will be important that retailers who are thinking of supplying fireworks for the first time consider their obligations relating to fireworks and the law.  They will need to ensure that they are sufficiently familiar with the complex rules that regulate the sale and possession of fireworks.

Contravention of the rules can result in substantial fines being imposed, or even a prison sentence.

One of our crime and regulatory experts Martin Hadley explains the law.

Classes of firework

There are four general classifications for fireworks:

  • Class 1 – Indoor fireworks
  • Class 2 – Garden fireworks
  • Class 3 – Display fireworks
  • Class 4 – Professional fireworks

Certain fireworks are banned entirely, such as mini-rockets, bangers, firecrackers, ‘jumping fireworks’ and air bombs.

There are also fireworks referred to as ‘adult fireworks’, which are subject to a local authority licensing regime.

Importation of Fireworks

It is a criminal offence to import fireworks unless notice of the fact is given to HM Customs and Excise, and details of the importer’s name and address where fireworks will be kept.

Given the sizeable market in illegal and unsafe imported fireworks, it is always wise only to purchase from established, recognised retailers.

Sale of Fireworks

Retailers must display specified signage warning that it is illegal to sell fireworks to those under 18 years.   This prohibition extends to sparklers.  Retailers should have robust training procedures in place to ensure that store staff know how to recognise under-age purchasers, and challenge as to age in appropriate cases.

There are licensing restrictions on the supply of adult fireworks.

You can only buy fireworks (including sparklers) from registered sellers for private use on these dates:

  • 15 October to 10 November
  • 26 to 31 December
  • 3 days before Diwali and Chinese New Year

At other times you can only buy fireworks from licensed shops.

Possession of Fireworks

fireworks and the lawIt is an offence for a person under 18 years to possess most fireworks in a public place. There are limited exceptions for those employed in the business of firework displays and other relevant occupations.

The possession of category four fireworks is prohibited save for those employed in the business of firework displays and other relevant occupations.

Weight and time limits apply to how much of each type you can store at home before you need to register your storage or apply for a licence.

If you are buying just selection boxes and sparklers from the supermarket, small quantities of fireworks in general or are buying your fireworks a day or two before you let them off, you do not normally need to worry about storage laws as they would not apply.

Night-time Restrictions

With certain exceptions for particular notable days of the year, the use of adult fireworks is not permitted during the hours of 11 pm – 7 am.

Again, there are specific exemptions:

  • November 5th – You can let fireworks off until midnight.
  • New Year’s Eve – You can let fireworks off until 1am.
  • Diwali – You can let fireworks off until 1am.
  • Chinese New Year – You can let fireworks off until 1am

Noise Levels

Category 3 fireworks are restricted to a sound impulse sound pressure level of 120 decibels. It is an offence to supply any firework that contravenes this restriction.

Public Order, arson, violent and Other Offences

Fireworks are dangerous incendiary devices and in the wrong hands can cause serious injury to persons, animals and property. Many of these offences carry substantial criminal penalties.

Transporting fireworks

Fireworks are explosives and cannot be sent through the post. This also applies to sparklers. Fireworks can only be shipped using an explosives courier and must be clearly marked as such.

Contact a criminal law specialist

Bonfire Night is a time for fun but can land the unwary in hot water with the police.

A person can be fined up to £5,000 and imprisoned for up to 6 months for selling or using fireworks illegally. You could also get an on-the-spot fine of £90.

Separate offences can be convicted if fireworks are used to cause a nuisance.

the law and fireworks
Nottingham crime and regulatory solicitor Martin Hadley

We can advise on any aspect of criminal law including fireworks and the law, so if in doubt contact your nearest office to speak to a criminal solicitor.  If you are a business under investigation for contravening the relevant regulations then please contact crime and regulatory solicitor Martin Hadley.

Alternatively you can use the contact form below.





Do I have to give police my Phone PIN?

The simple answer is no, you do not have to give the police your phone PIN.

There are, however, potential consequences in certain circumstances if you refuse.

When can the police ask for your phone PIN?

It is arguable that the police could ask you whenever they wanted for your phone PIN, you can always say no. The critical issue is whether they can take further action if you say no.

 When can they take this further action?

Section 49 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 contains the relevant power.

If your phone has been seized, or in circumstances where police have the power to inspect it, the police can give you notice that they require you to provide the phone PIN or “encryption key” to allow them access. The same applies to other devices such as computers.

phone PIN

Written permission must be obtained from a Judge or a District Judge for the giving of a notice under section 49, this then provides “appropriate permission”.

The person with “appropriate permission” requesting the information must believe, on reasonable grounds:

  • that the key or PIN is in your possession;
  • that the notice is necessary for the grounds listed below, or it is necessary for the purpose of securing the effective exercise or proper performance by any public authority of any statutory power or duty
  • the notice is proportionate; and
  • that it is not reasonably practicable for the person to obtain possession of the protected information without the giving of a notice.

A notice is ‘necessary’ if it is necessary:

  • in the interests of national security;
  • for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime or
  • it is in the interests of the economic well-being of the UK.

What would “notice” be?

A notice has to be

  • in writing (or otherwise recorded)
  • set out the protected information to which it relates
  • set out the grounds for requiring it
  • specify the office, rank or position of the person giving it
  • specify the office, rank or position of the person granting permission for it to be given
  • specify the time by which the notice is to be complied with
  • set out what disclosure is required and how it is to be provided.

What is concerning is that people are very often given documents that leave the impression that giving the phone PIN is compulsory, when in fact they are mere requests not authorised by any higher body.

As a result you should always seek the advice of a specialist criminal solicitor before complying with any request.

phone PIN

What if I do not know the PIN or still don’t want to give it?

If you do not comply with a properly given notice, you can be prosecuted. If you know the information required and refuse to provide it, you can be sentenced to a maximum of 2 years imprisonment or 5 years imprisonment for an offence involving national security or child indecency.

If you genuinely do not know the information you can put this forward as a defence to the offence.

The legislation says that a person will be taken as not being in possession of a key (or PIN) if “sufficient evidence of that fact is adduced to raise an issue with respect to it and the contrary is not proved beyond a reasonable doubt”.

 What sentences have been given?

 Andrew Garner failed to comply with a notice, he said that he had forgotten the PIN but was found guilty and given eighteen months imprisonment.

Tajan Spaulding pleaded guilty after refusing to provide the PIN for his iPhones and was given eight months imprisonment.

Stephen Nicholson was given 14 months imprisonment for failing to provide his Facebook password to the police during the investigation into the murder of Lucy McHugh.

 phone PIN

How can we help?

People have been to prison for not providing the PIN for their phone,  The consequences can be severe.  This article can only ever be a simple overview of the power.

We can advise you whether the notice is lawfully made and whether the request is made in appropriate circumstances.  We will advise you whether you have a defence that can be put forward in court.

Obtaining advice at an early stage is crucial. The benefits of seeking early legal advice if spoken to by the police under caution 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.

assaults on emergency workers
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands


Accredited representative advises during no comment interview

no comment interviewFly on the wall documentaries are increasingly popular, particularly when they show the workings of the criminal justice system.  Such programs may, particularly when they rely on interviews with the police, present a no comment interview as harmful to a suspects case.

While there may be instances where a person is not helped by failing to give an account, there are many occasions when there is substantial benefit to a no comment interview.

Exercising your right to silence

Choosing not to answer questions is your legal right.  The reasons for refusing to answer questions my be complex.  You would certainly be best advised to seek expert legal advice before doing so.

You can read more about your right to silence here.

Choosing a no comment interview might mean that no further action is taken by the police at the conclusion of the police investigation.

Here are two examples where accredited police station representative Rob Lowe at our Chesterfield office provided advice on the right to silence.  His clients conducted a no comment interview.  Ultimately it was to their benefit.

No comment interview following assault allegation

no comment interview
Accredited police station representative Rob Lowe

Rob was instructed to attend for a voluntary interview.  His client was being investigated as an allegation had been made that he assaulted a neighbour.  The neighbour was said to have stepped onto his land to remonstrate with a third party who was driving a tractor.

The allegation was that Rob’s client had then shoved the neighbour.

Upon taking his client’s instructions, he confirmed that he had been present and approached the complaint.  He accepted putting himself between the complainant and the driver.  This was to highlight to the neighbour that he was putting himself in a dangerous position bearing in mind the type of vehicle.

Our client denied touching the complainant at all.

Rob assessed the police evidence as being weak.  Without any form of admission it seemed unlikely that it would proceed to court.  In order to remove any risk that his client would go beyond his instructions when interviewed, Rob advised his client to use a prepared statement and then conduct a no comment interview.

Rob’s assessment of the case was correct because after the interview took place the police confirmed that no further action would be taken.

No comment interview where no complaint made

On this occasion following a client’s arrest, Rob was instructed to advise a suspect who had been arrested of assault and criminal damage within a domestic setting.

Before interview, Rob discovered that the police had no statement of complainant from the only witness who could support a prosecution.  There was no other admissable or independent evidence.

Based on his assessment of the evidence, Rob advised his client that he ought to exercise his right to silence in interview.  As a result, he made no comment replies to questions.

As no one was accusing his client of wrong doing there was no need to answer questions.  Again, Rob’s client was released without any charges from the police.

Instruct a criminal law specialist to advise on a no comment interview.

These are just two examples of how instructing us at the point of police interview can benefit you and ensure that we protect your interests.

Some more benefits of early legal advice can be found here.

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

racially aggravated
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands


What is entrapment? Is it a defence?

Agent provocateur is French for “inciting agent”, an entrapment situation where a person is enticed, incited or encouraged into committing an offence that he would not have otherwise committed.

How does it relate to criminal law?

entrapmentThe police frequently use undercover police officers in relation to drugs offences. An officer becomes familiar with local drug users and suppliers, and evidence for supply-related offending is obtained.

If the officer asks the suspect for drugs is he an agent provocateur, is he an “inciting agent”?

Some people would try to argue he is and that they wouldn’t have committed the offence unless he had asked them. The difference is between the officer causing the offending and merely providing an opportunity for it to be committed with the officer rather than someone else.

What have the courts said, and is entrapment a defence?

entrapmentEntrapment is not a defence, but it could be argued that the case should not be brought at all.

This would involve a consideration as to the degree of persuasion, the gravity of the offence. The question of exclusion of evidence may also arise.

In the case of Shannon it was said that if there is good reason to question the credibility of the evidence given, then the judge may conclude that the evidence should be excluded.

Two leading cases involved the supply of drugs to an undercover police officer. “L” argued that he had been lured into the supply.

The Court held that it would be acceptable if officers were to provide a person with an unexceptional opportunity to commit a crime and the person then freely took advantage of that opportunity.

entrapmentThe situation would be quite different and would be an abuse of process if officers instigated an offence by offering inducements and luring a person into a course of action he would not normally have followed.

In “G’s” case the actions of the officers, by contrast, were said to go beyond those of undercover agents as they instigated the offence, there was no evidence to suggest that without their intervention it would have been committed.

In a case involving an undercover journalist (Shannon v UK), it was said that an offender was not entrapped when he supplied drugs to the journalist as he had not been placed under any pressure to do so.

Do undercover officers have rules to follow?

There is an Undercover Operations Code of Practice issued jointly by all UK police authorities and HM Customs and Excise.

Contact one of our criminal law solicitors to discuss issues of entrapment.

We are experts at assessing evidence and putting forward legal arguments. We can advise you as to whether entrapment applies to your case or not.

As a result, if you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about an offence of 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.

racially aggravated
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands


What power do the police have to test your eyesight?

There has been much ado in the press about police forces undertaking random checks on motorists and revoking licences at the roadside on the basis of a vision test. So, what are their powers?

vision test

Can the police stop me?

Under section 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 a police officer in uniform has the power to require a driver of a vehicle on a road to stop.  It is an offence to fail to comply with such a request.

Does the officer have to be in uniform?

To use this power the officer has to be in uniform. There is a common law power, however, for an officer not in uniform to request a vehicle to stop although there would be no penalty for failing to comply.

What is the law about vision and driving?

You must be able to read a registration plate from 20 metres (approximately five car lengths). It is an offence to drive with uncorrected defective eyesight.

Can the police ask me to do a roadside eye test?

You could be asked to undertake the test voluntarily. Otherwise, there must be a suspicion that you may be guilty of driving when you cannot comply with the vision test requirement. If the officer does suspect, you can be required to submit to a test.

Section 96 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 provides this power. The test can be carried out between 8am and 9pm, only in daylight.

What if I refuse to do the test?

If the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you have been driving while your eyesight is such that you could not pass the test and you refuse to do so, you are committing an offence.

What could happen?

Failing to stop for a police officer, under section 163, can be punished by a fine.

Driving with uncorrected defective eyesight or refusing to submit to a test of vision carries a fine, discretionary disqualification and an obligatory endorsement of three penalty points.

What about my licence, can it be revoked?

vision testIf you fail a vision test at the roadside, or fail to comply, the police can immediately report this fact to the DVLA.

There is a fast track system whereby a decision to revoke your licence can quickly be made, such a decision taking place within hours. Once your licence is revoked, it will be not be returned until you can demonstrate that your eyesight meets the required standard.

Your licence being revoked will not prevent a prosecution for the offences outlined above.

Why is the police vision test in the news?

The power for fast-track revocation has existed since 2013. The power is now being widely reported as three police forces have announced their intention to undertake such checks at the roadside, this may be extended nationwide.

Based on a study by the Association of Optometrists it is estimated that some 1 million people in the UK are driving illegally. RSA Insurance estimates that eyesight problems cause nearly 3000 casualties per year on the UK roads.

The police forces involved in the initiative have said that they will be gathering data as to the extent of any issues. Potentially, this could lead to a further mandatory vision test at some stage after the practical driving test.

Speak to an expert motoring law solicitor

We are experts in road traffic law and can advise you if you are facing investigation or prosecution. To discuss any aspect of your case please contact your nearest office.

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Released under Investigation by the police – an explainer

released under investigationIf you have found this article through an internet search then it is likely that you are one of many thousands of people who have been interviewed by the police under caution and then released under investigation.

It may be that you are having to search for an explanation because several weeks, or months, or even a year have passed and you have not heard anything from the police.  You might not know or be confused about what will happen now that you have been released under investigation.

What does released under investigation mean?

If this has happened to you then it should mean that any police investigation into your alleged behaviour is still ongoing.  The police should intend to notify you of the decision as to whether or not you will be prosecuted at some point in the future.

Often the effect of being released under investigation is that suspects will find that their lives are put on hold in many ways.  It might be that the original allegation is a serious one so it is hard to get on with your life as normal.  Your studies or career might be suffering while you are released under investigation due to a lack of knowledge of what is happening.

You might not know when property such as telephones or computers are to be returned.  Potential witnesses might be waiting to see if they will be spoken to by the police.

Until you hear from the police it will be hard to put the matter to the back of your mind and impossible to forget about it, even where you know that you were not in the wrong.

Why am I not given a fixed date?

Previously suspects in a criminal investigation were likely to be released on bail to return to the police station so that a decision on charge or further interviews could take place.

released under investigationAdverse publicity of cases where suspects were on bail for what could be years meant that the system was reviewed.  The system created inconvenience where people would have to return to the police station many times only to find nothing was to happen and their bail was extended.

Police bail is now only used in a limited number of cases.  The ability to keep suspects on police bail for long periods is now overseen by the courts.

Unfortunately, the change to the law on police bail has meant that it has been replaced with an equally unsatisfactory system where the police don’t even provide the milestones that bail dates would give to permit a review of the investigation.

Will the police keep you informed of developments?

For those who have been released under investigation it is unlikely to be enough to hope that the police are carrying out a thorough and effective investigation into the allegations

It is often impossible to tell whether any delay is due to the investigation or because other cases have been prioritised by the officer in your case.

Instruct a criminal law solicitor to represent your interests

released under investigationEven if you were interviewed without a solicitor before you were released under investigation it is still not to late to contact us for our help.

We will keep in regular contact with the police to make sure that they are continuing to investigate your case.  We will try and help you with a timetable for when certain steps will be taken and when the investigation is likely to conclude.

This may be of particular importance where the police are having items subject to forensic testing or having computers or mobile phones analysed.  This can take a long time, particularly in complex or serious cases.

We can help negotiate the return of property to you if it is no longer relevant to the investigation.

Having us instructed at that stage will mean that where further interviews under caution are to take place we will be able to arrange them at a time convenient to you and your solicitor.

Can I change solicitors once I’ve been interviewed?

released under investigationIf you had the duty solicitor in your first interview then VHS Fletchers will be able to represent you in any subsequent interview under caution and that advice will remain free of charge to you under the legal aid scheme.

If, however, you had selected your own solicitor but now wish to change to VHS Fletchers then you may have to pay privately.  Contact us and we will advise you as to that aspect of the case.

What should I do now?

With any criminal investigation it is always important to instruct a criminal solicitor from the outset.  Our advice will be free of charge to you and we are entirely independent from the police.

The advantages of seeking legal advice in a police interview under caution can be found here.

Our police station solicitors and accredited representatives are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from our offices across the East Midlands to provide you with advice when you most need it.

The contact details for your nearest office can be found here.

If you are arrested and do not have the time to contact us before you are taken to the police station ask the custody staff to phone VHS Fletchers.

released under investigation
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

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