Is it a crime to swear at the Police

Whether behaviour can be properly categorised as disorderly is a question of fact. Disorderly behaviour does not require any element of violence, actual or threatened; and it includes conduct that is not necessarily threatening, abusive or insulting. It is not necessary to prove any feeling of insecurity, in an apprehensive sense, on the part of a member of the public (Chambers and Edwards v DPP [1995] Crim LR 896). The following types of conduct are examples, which may at least be capable of amounting to disorderly behaviour:

causing a disturbance in a residential area or common part of a block of flats;
persistently shouting abuse or obscenities at passers-by;
pestering people waiting to catch public transport or otherwise waiting in a queue;
rowdy behaviour in a street late at night which might alarm residents or passers-by, especially those who may be vulnerable, such as the elderly or members of an ethnic minority group;
causing a disturbance in a shopping precinct or other area to which the public have access or might otherwise gather;
bullying.
Section 5 should be used in cases which amount to less serious incidents of anti-social behaviour. Where violence has been used, it is not normally appropriate to charge an offence under section 5 unless the physical behaviour amounts merely to pushing or undirected lashing out of a type likely to cause no more than a glancing blow, minor bruising or grazing. Such conduct may also be classified as disorderly and suitable for a charge under section 91 CJA 1967 in appropriate circumstances.

There must be a person within the sight or hearing of the suspect who is likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress by the conduct in question. A police officer may be such a person, but remember that this is a question of fact to be decided in each case by the magistrates. In determining this, the magistrates may take into account the familiarity which police officers have with the words and conduct typically seen in incidents of disorderly conduct. (DPP v Orum [1988] Crim L R 848).

Although the existence of a person who is caused harassment alarm and distress must be proved, there is no requirement that they actually give evidence. In appropriate cases, the offence may be proved on a police officer’s evidence alone.

Police officers are aware of the difficult balance to be struck in dealing with those whose behaviour may be perceived by some as exuberant high spirits but by others as disorderly. In such cases informal methods of disposal may be appropriate and effective; but if this approach fails and the disorderly conduct continues then criminal proceedings may be necessary.

In deciding whether a charge under section 5 is appropriate, the nature of the conduct must be considered in light of the penalty that the suspect is likely to receive on conviction.

Where there is reliable evidence that the accused was drunk in a public place at the time of the alleged offence to the extent that the accused had lost the power of self control, a charge of drunk and disorderly behaviour should be preferred where otherwise a section 5 charge would be appropriate.

By virtue of section 31(1)(c)of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (as amended by the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001), section 5 is capable of being charged as a discrete racially or religiously aggravated offence, refer to CPS Guidance on Prosecuting Cases of Racial and Religious Crime, elsewhere in the Legal Guidance.

Racially/religiously aggravated section 5 is a summary only offence, with the maximum penalty being a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.

By virtue of Schedule 7 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police (SOCAP) Act 2005, section 5 is capable of being an arrestable offence if the criteria in section 24A PACE (as amended by section 110 SOCAP Act 2005) is satisfied.

How do I become a Solicitor please?

The first thing is: why?
250 firms closed over the Summer. People have been made redundant. Legal aid is being slashed, new contracts in Civil are being tendered for over next few months and firms will have to reassess staff requirements after contracts are awarded.
Criminal legal aid is very much as has been. There will be tendering next year. However numbers are down in the Courts and so a clear out of qualified staff is highly likely.
If you are likely to be employed by a big City type firm then you need to start applying to such firms and talking to them. What is is about you that stands out? What did/will you achieve at University that makes you unique?
Have you worked and gained real experience of leading a team? Of making decisions? Of “selling”?
Have you served in the Armed Forces?
What is special about you?

How are you going to present it? 1 page of A4 and bullet points is probably enough paper.
What do you say? Bullet points as to work and life experience, degree modules and actual or predicted grade and grades at A levels. GCSEs don’t count.

What about a local or legal aid firm?
Be prepared to work for free. Show you are useful. Get employed as paralegal. Consider CILEx route to qualification so you can earn as you learn (oh and it’s cheaper than LPC).

Get out of your house and go visit firms. Have you any idea how many people email their cv to Solicitors speculatively?

Don’t assume getting a degree and passing the LPC is a route to a job. If you want to work in Criminal law become an Accredited Police Station Representative whilst at Uni. That would help get you a job as you would be cost neutral.

Here’s a few things that don’t impress:
“My time is precious so I’d like paid for my work experience”.
“Why haven’t you responded?”.
“I work well on my own or in a team”.
“Can you just tell me how I get to be a Solicitor?”.
“I’m not really sure if being a Solicitor is really for me so I wondered if you’d let me try it out first?”.
“Everythin I done at unerversity I done relly well”.

I don’t have time to speak to you or read your cv. So how are you going to get my attention?
It is an oversubscribed market. So why do I need you?

My Uncle, who lived alone, has just died, what do I do next?

This is obviously a common situation which raises certain urgent issues.
1. Make sure the house is secure. If there were a number of carers from an agency visiting the house did they have keys? If yes, then you may wish to consider changing the locks.
If the house has window locks then lock them. Insurers will insist upon this.
2. As a matter of urgency look for an insurance policy in respect of buildings and contents. If you can’t find a paper version there may be reference to a policy in your uncle’s computer. Or you could go back through the last year of bank statements looking for payments to insurance companies. At this stage you may need to instruct a solicitor to find out as financial institutions may not be prepared to give you information.
3. The house may not have been insured. Emmersons Solicitors Probate Department has dealt with a number of cases recently where this was the case. Some older people may overlook this especially if they are in ill health.
4. If there is an insurance policy in place then inform the insurer immediately. Some companies will allow the policy to continue until renewal time. However, they will place conditions upon the policy. Eg. That the property must be visited weekly, or that the water is switched off. Some companies will refuse to renew the policy once it has expired. You need confirmation of the position in writing.
5. If there is no insurance or the existing company will not allow a policy to continue then you will need an Empty Property Policy. They can be quite difficult to purchase. Most solicitors deal with specialist insurers in this regard.
6. Is there a funeral plan? This will be linked to one company. If you use another company for the funeral then the plan is wasted.
7. Freeze all bank accounts. If you need money for the funeral and there are sufficient funds in your relative’s bank account then the bank will release money directly to a funeral director. At Emmersons we regularly arrange for this to happen.
8. Check damp garages and outhouses for paperwork. You would be surprised at how many people keep the deeds to their house in the garage! I always advise my clients that we can store their deeds free of charge.
9. Is there a will? If you cannot find one in the house then contact your uncle’s last known solicitor. Many people do not keep a copy of their will in their home. If this applies to you then obtain a copy from your solicitor and advise your relatives which solicitor is storing the original.

As you can see there is a lot to do very quickly. Some people are happy to sort out all of the above without help. However, should you find the task too daunting then ask a solicitor for help.

September, the month of separations!

For some reason September sees a peak in the number of people separating from their partners. It is believed that one of the reasons is that a couple have been on holiday and spent more time together which serves to highlight their differences.
Whatever the reason, you do not need to panic. If you seek legal advice you will have all of the facts that you need at an early stage. Many client’s leave our office after their first appointment with a great sense of relief. Emmersons Solicitors Family Law Team have years of experience. We are members of The Law Society Family Law Panel and Jacqueline Emmerson, our senior partner, is a Collaborative Family lawyer. With all of our experience we are able to dispel the myths surrounding separation. Advice given by your friends in the pub is no substitute for legal advice.
The usual way to approach matters is to gather all of your financial information eg. How much is your home worth, how much is left to pay on the mortgage, do you have other savings and investments, and do you have debt?
The next stage is to swap both parties financial information. At that stage it may be very easy to negotiate a settlement. If matters are more complicated then you could opt to attend meetings with your ex-partner and both solicitors. This can be a very speedy method of filling in gaps in financial information. It is often possible in a first meeting to narrow many issues still in dispute.
If you don’ want to come face to face with your ex-partner you can still attend a meeting whereby the solicitors meet in a room and use separate rooms to see each of their clients.
If you feel that you could both negotiate in an attempt to avoid court proceedings then Collaborative Family Law could be the answer. This process involves meetings as above. However, you both sign to say that you are committed to the process. The idea is to make you both work harder to find solutions that will avoid the adversarial nature of court proceedings. Clients usually comment that they feel more in control of their separation using Collaborative Law.
Looking at the processes above should help you to see how straightforward matters can be. You don’t have to worry about the law; your solicitor is there to guide you through the legal complexities allowing you to concentrate on moving forward.

Dear Ken

Dear Ken
It all started so well. You said all the right things. Prisons need to be reformed. IPP is a ridiculous sentence that is so under resourced few pass through it as intended.
The Police operate inefficiently as does the entire criminal justice system. The oil in the engine is goodwill and without it little would happen.
You introduced LASPO. This addresses IPP. Little has been done since LASPO given Royal Assent. Why?
The CPS introduced (without consultation) eworking at great expense. So many errors in planning (due to lack of consultation) that paper still has to be used.
Then there’s the Flexible Court Pilots. No consultation there either. Unnecessary in many ways but primarily because there is so little business going through the Magistrates Courts. Courts are being closed. New systems to make management of cases more efficient make cases move slowly. No consultation again.
If you want to effect proper, lasting reform then you and your advisers must lose the prejudice you feel for Solicitors and consult openly about the real problems and real solutions. You and your Ministers surround yourselves with people who will only ever praise your ideas. Myself and colleagues know what works and what doesn’t. Yet you won’t speak to us.
Why don’t you want to engage with those who know how to make the criminal justice system work properly?