In June 2020, the House of Commons convened a special parliamentary committee to review the safeguards underpinning private prosecutions in the UK. As an increasingly popular alternative to state-led prosecutions, policymakers are anxious to ensure current safety measures are suitably robust.
At the end of April, the European Union’s counter-terrorism chief, Gilles de Kerchove, warned that the ongoing pandemic is fuelling extremism on the far-right and far-left across the continent. That it is providing Islamic State and other militant groups with the perfect opportunity to regain influence in the region.
There’s been extensive research into the links between economic downturn and changes in the rate of criminality - but less on the impact of a global pandemic. Since the 1970s, the beginning of modern criminology, it’s generally become accepted that a 1% increase in unemployment should produce as much as a 2% increase in property-crime rates. Other studies have identified a similar pattern for robbery and even homicide. This held true until the 2008 financial crisis, when the trend disappeared completely. So what happened?
To many, 2019 was the year of civil unrest. Small policy changes by governments across the developed and developing world - charging for online calls in Lebanon, raising ticket prices for the metro in Chile - ignited long-running protests, riots, and clashes with security forces. Usually, these were led by the young, educated, and disaffected.
Being a victim of crime can be a shocking, painful and often confusing time. Notwithstanding the often substantial financial implications of being a victim of an offence, this often feels deeply personal, and the natural response is to seek justice against those who have wronged you. We are seeing a substantial increase in private prosecutions, but many victims would still like the police and state to prosecute on their behalf.
The impact that COVID-19 continues to have across the globe is unprecedented. A wealth of advice has been shared on how businesses can support themselves and their workforce – by maintaining business continuity, ensuring staff welfare from a duty of care perspective, and increasing resilience for what is to come. Supporting companies in this way is at the core of our work at AnotherDay. However, we also recognise that at the individual, human-factor level another layer of crisis has been occurring in parallel that should not be ignored.
Covid-19 has created a unique situation in the criminal justice system. Police resources are stretched, courts closed or limited in their ability to conduct criminal trials, and obtaining evidence from witnesses in person is difficult, if not impossible. However, crime, particularly fraud, still continues unabated, and the need to conduct a quick and efficient investigation is more important than ever.
Most criminal cases are investigated by the police and prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). In a private prosecution, it is often the case that neither body will be involved. That said, careful consideration must still be given to the CPS, and procedures carefully adhered to, when starting a private prosecution.
Coronavirus has become an inescapable part of our daily lives. Since the first cases were reported from the Wuhan seafood market in December 2019, governments around the world have scrambled to halt the spread of the virus and deal with both the immediate and knock-on effects of COVID-19 on global society.
Any individual or corporate entity in England and Wales is entitled to bring a private prosecution against a third party.
Any UK citizen or organisation has the right to bring a private prosecution against another party if they’ve been the victim of crime. It has been a part of our constitution since the 19th century, enshrined in British law as part of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.
The UK has experienced a sharp rise in the popularity of private prosecution over the last few years. Statistics show that, since 2015, an increasing number of individuals and corporate entities have relied on independent investigators and specialist law firms, rather than the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), when seeking legal redress.
You run a successful business, but you are approached by what appears to be a highly regarded company interested in a possible merger. Do you move forward with their proposition without completing any checks?
In late 2018, we supported a client with a very personal case, being a victim of hate crime. Due to their background, they had been subject to very personal threats and harassment by an individual, starting with verbal threats, moving on to online stalking of the victim and her family, and escalating to waiting outside her home address and making threats.
Since 2010, cuts to police have seen a dramatic reduction in police numbers – numbers of officers are down by 25%, with a further £40m squeeze by 2020. Moreover, there is currently a ‘national crisis’ of detectives according to an HMRC report, and it doesn’t stop there – the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have had their budgets reduced by a similar amount.
This form of attack, was first called upon in the May 2017 edition of the Islamic State’s English language magazine, Rumiyah , as Islamic State propagandists urged western supporters that, “the objective is to create as much carnage and terror as one possibly can until Allah decrees his appointed time and the enemies of Allah storm his location or succeed in killing him.”
The media has recently been extremely scathing of the police in relation to several high profile offences – the dropping of numerous sexual offences cases due to a lack of review of key evidence, failure to disclose material that will assist the defence, and other mistakes in the investigation have led to concern about the conduct of other similar investigations. Several police forces have now ordered a review of all sexual assault investigations, leading to additional resources being taken away from front line policing.
Terrorism as a threat to finances is often overlooked in favour of organised criminality online. In the latest edition of the ISIS magazine, Rumiyah, intended for western radical audiences, the terrorist-organisation called for targeted attacks against high net-worth individuals and corporations. This edition was released in the Islamic calendar month of Rajab, falling this year between 29th March and 26th April. In it lies a clear dichotomy, painting the world in black-and-white, of right and wrong, using theological justifications to kill the rich; “Just as the blood of the kafir is halal to shed, so too is the kafir’s wealth halal to take.”
In today’s current climate, with the constantly changing landscape and multi-faceted threats, the ramifications of an emergency can have a disastrous impact on your business. A catastrophic event, be it a natural disaster, security breach or being targeting by an organised crime group in a high profile offence, will almost always lead to an initial financial decline. And as the threat of organised criminality, terrorism, fraud and cyber-crime now affects those previously feeling secure, crisis planning and resilience is an issue that all major businesses should consider.
A prerequisite of holistic family safety is mitigating online threats – so a level of understanding of how information can be retrieved from the internet is essential. We often focus on protecting online data and individual devices: as the ‘internet of things’ grows it will be the unforeseen devices that we forget about – which are naturally insecure – which will cause the most significant and intimate data breaches.
Recent events in Turkey have demonstrated three things: a split military which does not have enough control to take the country, a president that does not have enough control to prevent a coup, and a world which does not have enough control to understand and interpret the volumes of ‘fact’ and ‘opinion’ created by such a shock.