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handcuffs-2102488 1280There is a defence in law known as necessity or duress of circumstances. It can be very difficult to prove and will only apply in unusual and extreme circumstances. It is used to describe a situation where someone is forced by the demands of the circumstances to act unlawfully, and where a worse situation was avoided by acting in this way. This defence is not a reference to self-defence which is a fairly separate defence.

What do I need to demonstrate?
You will need to show that you only acted for as long as was necessary. In a driving case where you need to escape a dangerous situation, for example, when you are over the alcohol limit, you must stop as soon as the danger has been averted. If you carried on driving, you would not have a defence.

It is common for officers at airports and other ports of entry to stop people carrying controlled drugs in their luggage, clothing or inside their bodies on behalf of suppliers in foreign jurisdictions. The informal term for such people is ‘mule’. They may have been pressured into carrying the drugs or have done so for a fee, or both.

passport-2733068 1920On occasion large amounts are found, but sometimes it is merely the leftovers from a holiday or business trip abroad, maybe at a location where drug use is more widely tolerated by law enforcement.

Committing this offence can however result in severe consequences.

The crime
Drugs are transported into the jurisdiction in a number of supposedly clever ways. Cocaine may be moved in its liquid form while concealed as something else. Human carriers may swallow a number of pellets containing drugs of different kinds. Naturally, the police and associated bodies are regularly uncovering these methods as they become apparent, resulting in those who run the gauntlet being charged and sent to prison for a substantial term despite initially thinking they have beaten their opponents.

It may be an offence to fail to provide information as the identity of a driver when you receive a written request to do so from (or on behalf of) the police. If convicted, you face a large fine and 6 penalty points.
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How long do they have to make the request?
A request must usually be served within 14 days of the offence being committed. There is case law where because a postal strike delayed the mail and it was delivered after the 14-day period, the offence was not committed.

If you have any uncertainty as to whether the notice was served within the requisite time, please contact us for further advice. In some circumstances a valid request can be made after the 14-day period, so do not ignore a request merely because you believe it to be out of time – always seek legal advice.

riotpoliceThe Sentencing Council, which is the organisation responsible for setting sentencing guidelines in England and Wales, has today circulated proposed new guidelines in respect of public order offences.

Offences Covered
The guidelines will apply to the following offences, all of which are to be found in the Public Order Act 1986:
-Riot
-Violent disorder
-Affray
-Threatening or provocation of violence and the racially or religiously aggravated counterpart offences
-Disorderly behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress and the racially or religiously aggravated counterpart offences
-Disorderly behaviour causing or likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress and the racially or religiously aggravated counterpart offence
-Offences relating to stirring up racial or religious hatred and hatred based on sexual orientation

Following on from the Parole Board decision to release John Worboys, the taxi driver rapist, there has been an evaluation of its functions, in particular a review of Rule 25 of the Parole Board Rules 2016 that prohibited the Parole Board disclosing any information relating to its hearings.

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That rule was found to be unlawful in a judicial review of the decision in Worboys.

The government has now published the Parole Board (Amendment) Rules 2018 as an initial and urgent step to remove the extensive ban on disclosure of information. These new rules will come into force on the 22nd May 2018. The rules are not retrospective and will not apply to decisions made before that date.

The Parole Board will now be able to make summaries of their decisions, to release or not to release a prisoner, available for the first time.

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