The Crime and Regulatory department is a busy department both day and night, with the team being on call 24 hours a day. My days are often jam-packed and vary in terms of the cases I am involved in, tasks I am asked to do, and meetings I attend.
I am now coming to the end of my second month as a first-year Trainee Solicitor in the department, and I have already been involved in all aspects of work undertaken by the team. I have prepared some highlights to give you an insight into a life of crime.
Police Interviews – I have attended the police station with lawyers in the department and observed many police interviews with clients who have been summoned to a voluntary interview, and those who have been taken into custody and subsequently interviewed. When you first arrive, the police provide ‘disclosure’. This can be in either written or verbal form. This is an opportunity for you to find out more information about the offence and evidence that the police hold. It is important to identify the right questions to ask, although (as I have observed) the answers are not always forthcoming. You then meet with your client and advise them in preparation for the interview, continue to provide assistance throughout the interview and meet privately with them subsequently to discuss the next steps.
Viper Identification Parades – This is an electronic video recorded ID parade where the victim or witness watches video snapshots on screen of the accused and others, to see if it is possible to identify the person accused of crime. As the solicitors for the accused, we are given a pre-screening of the video and then the victim or witness is invited in to watch the video and identify (or not) the accused. No amount of studying can prepare you for these situations, both sitting silently so as to not give anything away and watching the reaction of the victim or witness. It has been great to see how ID parades are carried out in real life.
Case Preparation & Court – The department deal with a large variety of criminal cases and every day involves something different. I have been involved in preparing numerous cases for trial in the Magistrates Court, which involves meeting with clients and witnesses to take statements and briefing Counsel. I have already attended the Magistrates and Crown Court several times and even attended a sentencing hearing on only my second day. Tomorrow, I will be attending the first trial that I have been involved in preparing.
Driverless Car Demonstration – The other side of the department at Woodfines focuses on Regulatory law, and earlier this month, the first driverless car was demonstrated in the UK on the streets of Milton Keynes. I was lucky enough to attend, along with my supervising partner and another lawyer in the team (you can read more about it here). The development of driverless cars is interesting from a regulatory point of view as the law and Highway Code will have to adapt to determine how the actions of the ‘drivers’ of driverless cars fit within the law.
This is just a snapshot of what I have been involved in, and doesn’t include prison visits, Skype conferences with Counsel and meetings with clients regarding environmental protection issues, HGV licensing and taxi licensing, all of which I have also had opportunity to be involved with.
Meeting with and dealing with clients is the most rewarding part of my role as a Trainee Solicitor. Both Crime and Regulatory matters require you to meet and liaise with clients who are facing difficult times, and requires you to immediately be at your best and often think on your feet.
And so, my life of crime continues. No doubt the coming months will be full of varied work and I very much look forward to rising to the challenge and getting involved in all I can.