The Weekly Round-up: domestic abuse, stop and search, computer hacking

11 January 2021 by

In the news:

Last week’s round-up looked at the measures and messaging of the UK’s latest lockdown. This week we ask what it means for vulnerable children and victims of domestic abuse. Are sufficient legal safeguards in place?

For vulnerable children, it unfortunately seems not. On Wednesday, a Guardian investigation revealed that thousands of children were sent to unregulated care homes last year, while local authority provisions were stretched throughout many months of restrictions. These homes include supported accommodation facilities for over 16s, which are not subject to any inspections by regulators in England and Wales. The Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield has warned that the children’s care system has been ‘left to slip deeper into crisis, seemingly unable to stop some of the most vulnerable children from falling through the gaps.’

Thankfully, stronger protections for victims of domestic abuse are on the horizon. On Tuesday, the long-awaited Domestic Abuse Bill completed its second reading in the House of Lords. The Bill brings emotional, coercive or controlling, and economic abuse under a single statutory definition of domestic abuse, and imposes a statutory duty on local authorities to shelter victims and their children. Once passed, it will also create the role of Domestic Abuse Commissioner, to be assumed by Nicole Jacobs. 

Further protections cannot come soon enough. Calls to the National Domestic Abuse helpline increased by 66% when lockdown restrictions were first imposed last March, and frontline services remain desperately underfunded and overstretched.

In other news:

  • A group of eminent lawyers, including former Court of Appeal judges Sir Stephen Sedley and Sir Anthony Hooper, condemned Education Secretary Gavin Williamson for warning that universities which refuse to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism will face sanctions. ‘The legally entrenched right to free expression is being undermined by the promotion of an internally incoherent “non-legally binding working definition” of antisemitism,’ they wrote in a letter published by the Guardian.
  • Last week’s round-up featured District Judge Vanessa Baritser’s ruling against Julian Assange’s extradition to the US, which was delivered on Monday. Two days later, Assange’s application for bail was refused, on account of the substantial risk that he might abscond while lawyers for the US appeal the extradition ruling. Assange remains in Belmarsh Prison, where he has spent the past 18 months, and where his lawyers maintain a severe coronavirus outbreak puts the Wikileaks founder’s health at risk.
  • Friday was a busy day for civil liberties in the UK. The Metropolitan Police announced new policy guidance for officers, including a requirement to justify the use of handcuffs pre-arrest. This announcement followed the conclusion of a review authorised by Commissioner Cressida Dick in July 2020, which was triggered public outrage over the stop and search of Olympic athlete Bianca Williams in July. Meanwhile, it was revealed that over 1,000 Extinction Rebellion activists have been taken to court for protests which brought large parts of London to a standstill. 

In the courts:

  • Privacy International v Investigatory Powers Tribunal [2021] EWHC 27 (Admin): The High Court held that security and intelligence services cannot use non-specific warrants for sweeping computer hacking measures. The judicial review challenge was brought by Privacy International against a 2016 Investigatory Powers Tribunal decision concerning the lawful scope of section 5 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994, which empowers the Secretary of State to authorise warrants for the ‘interference with property or with wireless telegraphy’. In their joint judgment, Bean LJ and Farbey J reaffirmed the common law’s 250-year-old aversion to general warrants. (They cited such constitutional lodestars as Blackstone’s Commentaries and Lord Camden’s judgment in Entick v Carrington, even describing GCHQ officials as modern-day ‘successors to the King’s Messengers in the 1760s’.) Erosion of this longstanding principle would require express wording in the statute, which it was ultimately deemed not to contain. Consequently, any warrant under the provision can only be lawful, they held, ‘if it is sufficiently specific for the property concerned to be objectively ascertainable on the face of the warrant.’ They considered by way of example that reference to ‘every mobile phone in Birmingham’ might satisfy this requirement, but reference to ‘the mobile phone of any person conspiring to commit acts of terrorism’ would not, acknowledging that a large, ‘fact-sensitive’ grey area lay in-between. The judgment, which has so far escaped notice in the press, may well pose significant but unseen consequences for the state of digital surveillance in the UK.

On the UKHRB:

  • In a two-part analysis, Ruby Peacock examines the history of medical claims brought under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • On Law Pod UK, Professor Catherine Barnard talks us through Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal with the EU. 

Welcome to the UKHRB

This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.




Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption AI air pollution air travel ALBA Allergy Al Qaeda Amnesty International animal rights Animals Anne Sacoolas anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 article 263 TFEU Artificial Intelligence Asbestos Assange assisted suicide asylum asylum seekers Australia autism badgers benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery British Waterways Board care homes Catholic Church Catholicism Chagos Islanders Charter of Fundamental Rights child protection Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners civil partnerships climate change clinical negligence closed material procedure Coercion Commission on a Bill of Rights common law communications competition confidentiality consent conservation constitution contact order contact tracing contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus coronavirus act 2020 costs costs budgets Court of Protection covid crime criminal law Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation DEFRA deportation deprivation of liberty derogations Detention Dignitas diplomacy diplomatic relations disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Environment Equality Act Equality Act 2010 Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Facebook Facial Recognition Family Fatal Accidents Fertility FGM Finance foreign criminals foreign office foreign policy France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage gay rights Gaza Gender genetics Germany Google Grenfell Gun Control hague convention Harry Dunn Health HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Human Rights Watch Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests insurance international law internet inuit Iran Iraq Ireland islam Israel Italy IVF ivory ban Japan joint enterprise judaism judicial review Judicial Review reform Julian Assange jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid legal aid cuts Leveson Inquiry lgbtq liability Libel Liberty Libya lisbon treaty Lithuania local authorities marriage Media and Censorship mental capacity Mental Capacity Act Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery morocco murder music Muslim nationality national security naturism neuroscience NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges nuisance Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury physician assisted death Piracy Plagiarism planning planning system Poland Police Politics Pope press prison Prisoners prisoner votes Prisons privacy procurement Professional Discipline Property proportionality prosecutions prostituton Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries quarantine Radicalisation refugee rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania round-up Round Up Royals Russia saudi arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice Secret trials sexual offence shamima begum Sikhism Smoking social media social workers South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing starvation statelessness stem cells stop and search Strasbourg super injunctions Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance sweatshops Syria Tax technology Terrorism The Round Up tort Torture travel treason treaty accession trial by jury TTIP Turkey Twitter UK Ukraine universal credit universal jurisdiction unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Weekly Round-up Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wildlife wind farms WomenInLaw Worboys wrongful birth YearInReview Zimbabwe


This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.

%d bloggers like this: