Finding legal advice for your constituents

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MPs’ offices should not give out legal advice to constituents.  You should ask your constituents to seek independent legal advice given by a suitably qualified person with professional liability insurance.

Law Centres defend the legal rights of people who cannot afford a lawyer. They are specialists working in their local communities to uphold justice and advance equality.

There are various Law Centres throughout the country who https://www.lawcentres.org.uk/about-law-centres/law-centres-on-google-maps/alphabetically

Immigration

In the case of immigration matters, it is against the law to dispense immigration advice unless you are registered with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) or a member of an approved professional body such as the Law Society.

Find an immigration adviser: https://www.gov.uk/find-an-immigration-adviser

The Public Law Project employs specialist lawyers who assist individuals experiencing personal disadvantage, or charities or organisations representing the interests of marginalised or disadvantaged groups.  PLP also employs expert academics and researchers.

They may be able to take on individual cases that are referred to them by other lawyers, advisors, MPs or voluntary groups.  If they are unable to help, they may be able to signpost you to other lawyers or agencies that can.

Have a look at their page on helping individuals here; https://publiclawproject.org.uk/can-we-help/individuals/

The Unity Project supports migrants who have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF).

Karma Nirvana is a project which supports victims of honour-based violence and forced marriage.  https://karmanirvana.org.uk/

Further information

See the House of Commons Library Constituency Casework Guide to Legal Help: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/legal-help/

House of Commons Guide to Complaints against solicitors and other lawyers: 
https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn03762/

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Legal Aid: https://www.apg-legalaid.org/

From the APPG’s website:

“The APPG on Legal Aid provides bespoke training to MPs and their caseworkers on a range of subjects through the House of Commons Library. Studies and research have shown that as a consequence of the LASPO cuts there has been a huge increase in the number and complexity of legal problems that MPs are encountering in their surgeries. Our training is designed specifically with caseworkers in mind and provided by industry experts. To date, we have provided training in the following areas:

  • Legal Aid,
  • Immigration,
  • Housing Law,
  • Disability and Discrimination Law,
  • Employment Law,
  • Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and
  • Special Education Needs.

Feedback for the courses has been excellent. We have also developed courses in soft skills and interviewing techniques for new casework staff as part of the House of Commons induction process.

For further information about these courses, please check the ACT website.

We also provide briefings for individual MPs and select committees on various areas within legal aid. For further information, please contact Rohini.Teather@lapg.co.uk.”

Loot Boxes in Video Games – Research Briefing

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Another research briefing from the House of Commons Library: Loot Boxes in Video Games

In September 2020, the Government launched a call for evidence into the impact of loot boxes on gambling-like behaviour. This Library Paper gives a brief overview of loot boxes, what the law says, and concerns that have been raised.

You can find it here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-8498/

A Short Guide to Police Complaints

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The House of Commons Library has produced a research briefing for MPs and their staff to help them to deal with casework involving dissatisfaction with the police including:

  • understanding the police complaints system
  • where to find further information about police complaints
  • how to help constituents make complaints
  • how to help constituents who have already made complaints
  • and much more

You can find it here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9053/

Virtual Regional Roadshows

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The extremely popular regional roadshows were suspended because of COVID-19.  However, worry not, for the Customer Team has taken them online instead.

Rather than full day events, they have been broken down into 90-minute sessions, giving you a chance to learn about the range of services available, to influence future service provision and to share experience and knowledge with other staff working in your Region.

For full details, please go to the intranet page here: https://intranet.parliament.uk/business-news/news-current-issues/events/regional-constituency-events/

The current schedule is:

  • North East – Tuesday 30 June 2020
  • West Midlands – Tuesday 14 July 2020
  • Wales – Tuesday 28 July 2020
  • South West – Tuesday 4 August 2020
  • East – Tuesday 18 August 2020
  • London – Tuesday 25 August 2020
  • East Midlands – Tuesday 1 September 2020

More dates will be added later.

TODAY: Ask the Expert – Anti-Social Behaviour

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Douglas Pyper, a Library specialist, will be running an Ask the Expert session – Anti-Social Behaviour, with follow up questions from recent training and any other questions, today between 2pm and 4pm on the Help Hub Community (the new caseworker forum).   Doug will answer questions live but you can also post your questions in advance and view responses at any time afterwards.

If you haven’t yet logged on to the Help Hub Community and you can’t find your email invitation please get in contact and we will resend it.  Please don’t forward the link to anyone else as it will only work for you, if anyone else wants to join they can get in touch and we will send them a link.

When you click on the link you will need to login in to Office 365 with your parliamentary email and password.

New online resource – Armed Conflict Database

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New online resource provided by the House of Commons Library  

The Armed Conflict Database provides in-depth data, timelines and reports on conflicts worldwide. 

The ACD enables the user to assess the effects of armed conflict on a region or a country. Users can view historic trends and patterns in conflicts and read regular reports on new conflict trends. 

The database holds annual figures for global conflict trends, as well as multi-year statistics on fatalities, refugees and IDPs. 

Online resources from the Commons Library

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The House of Commons subscribes to a range of commercial websites and databases, which are made available via the Parliamentary Intranet to all Parliamentary Network users.

Examples include news monitoring resources; case law and statute databases, biographical reference; and journals and periodicals;

These services are listed on the Online resources A-Z page on the intranet.

To use a particular service, click on the title link for that resource.  This will take you to an intermediate access page giving details of passwords, if required (some of these sites require a username and password, while others use ‘silent’ logins).  On the intermediate access page, simply click on the logo or on the link in the opening paragraph and follow the access instructions.

Some intermediate access pages may also have links to online help or documentation such as user guides or manuals.

If you wish to add any of these services to your Favourites please bookmark the intermediate access page, rather than the service itself, as passwords / access arrangements may change from time to time.

Some services only allow a limited number of users at one time.  This is determined by the terms of the Library’s subscriptions to different services.  If you get an error message that the maximum number of users has been exceeded please try again later.

Please note that the Library does not have any control over the content, search software or frequency of updating of information.  The Library reviews usage of its online services; from time to time a subscription may be discontinued and new services may be added to the intranet.