Legislation / Legal
Defra: From 1 October National Park Authorities can make traffic regulation orders within their boundaries on rights of way & un-surfaced roads, which will enable them to control the use of motor vehicles on rights of way.
The last few years has seen a growing debate about the appropriateness & sustainability of the use of byways by motor vehicles for recreation and the government considers that in many cases a level of recreational use that may be acceptable in some areas is inappropriate in National Parks, which are designed to conserve & enhance natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage as well as enabling people to enjoy their special qualities.
Press release ~ Defra – Public Rights of Way ~ Relevant documents ~ Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act ~ Ramblers Association view ~ National Federation of Bridleway Associations ~ Yorkshire Dales Green Lanes Alliance ~ Trail Riders Fellowship ~ National Trust
Home Office: Incitement to religious hatred has become a criminal offence in England and Wales with the commencement of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act, which creates a new offence of intentionally stirring up religious hatred against people on religious grounds, closing a gap in the current legislation.
Existing offences in the Public Order 1986 Act legislate against inciting racial hatred. Jews and Sikhs have been deemed by the courts to be racial groups and are protected under this legislation, but other groups such as Muslims and Christians are considered to be religious rather than racial groups and have therefore not previously received any protection under the law. The new Act will give protection to these groups by outlawing the use of threatening words or behaviour intended to incite hatred against groups of people defined by their religious beliefs or lack of belief.
The new offence is limited to threatening words or behaviour, and there is a requirement for the prosecution to prove intention to stir up religious hatred. The new offence recognises that religious beliefs are a legitimate subject of vigorous public debate and all prosecutions, whether for racial or religious hatred, require the consent of the Attorney General.
Press release ~ Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 ~ The CPS: Guidance on Prosecuting Cases of Racist and Religious Crime ~ Religion or belief discrimination: Directgov
MoJ: Means testing in the Magistrates' Courts was introduced on time & on budget and remains on course to deliver its projected annual savings of £35m, a post implementation review has found. The new scheme was introduced on 2 October 2006 in all magistrates' courts to ensure that all those who can pay for their criminal defence are now doing so.
The review of the first six months of the scheme acknowledges that it has presented some operational challenges and sets out measures that are being put in place to tackle these issues effectively and so drive up efficiency across the criminal justice system.
One of the review's most significant recommendations is to extend the 'passporting' provisions for youths so that all defendants appearing before the youth court and all under 18-year-olds appearing before the magistrates' court are exempt from the means test. This change will be implemented on 1 November 2007. All cases will still need to satisfy the Interests of Justice test.
Press release ~ Post Implementation Review (PIR) of criminal legal aid means testing ~ LSC Website: Why means testing? ~ Interests of Justice test ~ Criminal Defence Service (CDS) Act 2006