C6: The UK Government, The Law and Your Role


The Development of British Democracy

  • Democracy
    • System of government where the whole adult population gets a say.
    • Can be via direct voting or choosing representative to make decisions on their behalf
  • 19th century
    • Britain - was not democratic country
    • Elections to select Members of Parliament (MPs)
      • Men over 21 and who owned a certain amount of property
    • Franchise
      • The number of people who had the right to vote
      • Grew over the 19th century
    • Political parties began to involve ordinary men and women as members
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The Development of British Democracy

  • Chartists (in the 1930s and 1940s)
    • Campaigned for reform
    • Six changes they wanted:
      • For every man to have the vote
      • Elections yearly
      • For all regions to be equal in the electoral system
      • Secret ballots
      • For any man to be able to stand as MP
      • For MPs to be paid
  • The campaign was generally seen as a failure at that time
  • By 1918, most of these reforms had been adopted
  • Voting franchise:
    • Extended to women over 30
    • In 1928, men and women over 21
    • In 1969, voting age was reduced to 18 for men and women
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The British Constitution

  • Constitution
    • Set of principles by which a country is governed
    • Includes all of the institutions that are responsible for running the country and how their power is kept in check
    • Also includes laws and conventions
    • British constitution - not written down in any single document, therefore, is unwritten
      • This is because UK has never had a revolution which led permanently to a totally new system of government
      • Some people believe that there should be a single document but others believe an unwritten constitution allows for more flexibility and better government
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The British Constitution: Constitutional Instituti

  • Constitutional Institutions
    • The Monarchy
    • Parliament (House of Lords and House of Commons)
    • Prime Minister
    • The cabinet
    • The judiciary (courts)
    • The police
    • The civil service
    • Local government
  • There are devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland that have the power to legislate on certain issues.
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The British Constitution: The Monarchy

  • Queen Elizabeth II
    • Head of state of the UK
    • Also the monarch or head of state for many countries in the Commonwealth
  • UK
    • A constitutional monarchy
    • This means that the king or queen does not rule the country but appoints the government, which the people have chosen in a democratic election
  • Monarch
    • Invites the leader of the party with the largest number of MPs or leader of a coalition between more than one party, to become the Prime Minister
    • Has regular meetings with the PM and can advise, warn and encouragebut the decisions on government policies are made by the PM and cabinet
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The British Constitution: The Monarchy

  • Queen Elizabeth II
    • Reigned since her father's death in 1952
    • In 2012, she celebrated her Diamond Jubilee (60 years as queen)
    • Married to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh
    • Prince Charles (Prince of Wales) - her eldest son and the heir to the throne
  • Queen's important ceremonial roles:
    • Opening of parliamentary session each year
      • The Queen makes speech which summarises the government's policies for the year ahead
      • All Acts of Parliament are made in her name
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The British Constitution: The Monarchy

  • Queen's other roles
    • Represents UK to the world
    • Receives foreign ambassadors and high commissioners
    • Entertains visiting heads of state
    • Makes state visits overseas in support of diplomatic and economic relationships with other countries
  • Queen's important role:
    • Providing stability and continuity
    • Provides a focus for national identity and pride
      • Demonstrated through celebrations of her Jubilee
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The British Constitution: The National Anthem

  • God Save the Queen
    • UK's National Anthem
    • Is played at important national occasions and at events attended by the Queen or by the Royal family
  • First verse:
    • God save our gracious Queen!
    • Long live our noble Queen!
    • God save the Queen!
    • Send her victorious,
    • Happy and glorious,
    • Long to reign over us.
    • God save the Queen!
  • Oath of Allegiance:
    • I (name) swear by Almighty God that on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors, according to law.
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The British Constitution: The National Anthem

  • Affirmation of Allegiance
    • I (name) do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successorts, according to law
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The British Constitution: System of Government

  • System of government in UK
    • Is a parliamentary democracy
  • UK - divided into parliamentary constituencies
    • Voters in each constituency elect their MP in a General Election
    • All elected MPs form the House of Commons
    • Most MPs belong to a political party and the party with majority of MPs forms the government
    • If one party does not get a majority, two parties can join together to form a coalition
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The British Constitution: House of Commons

  • House of Commons
    • Regarded as the more importat of the two chambers in Parliament because its members are democratically elected
    • Its members (MPs) consist of:
      • Prime Minister
      • Almost all the members of the cabinet
    • Each MP represents a parliamentary constituency, which is a small area of the country
    • MP's responsibilities:
      • Represent everyone in their constituency
      • Help to create new laws
      • Scrutinise and comment on what the government is doing
      • Debate important national issues
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The British Constitution: House of Lords

  • House of Lords
    • Members of House of Lords
      • Known as peers
      • Are not elected by people and do not represent a constituency
      • The role and membership of the House of Lords has changed over the last 50 years
  • Until 1958, all peers were:
    • hereditary - meaning they inherited their title, or
    • senior judges, or
    • bishops of the Church of England
  • Since 1958,
    • PMs has had the power to nominate peers just for their own lifetime
    • These are called life peers
      • They usually had an important career in politics, business, law or another profession
      • They are appointed by monarch on the advice of the PM
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The British Constitution: House of Lords

  • Life peers
    • Also include people nominated by the leaders of the other main political parties or by an independent Appointments Commission for non-party peers
  • In 1999
    • Hereditary peers lost the automatic right to attend the House of Lords
    • They now elect a few of their number to represent them in the House of Lords
  • House of Lords
    • More independent than House of Commons
    • Can suggest amendments or propose new laws, which are then discussed by MPs
    • Checks laws that have been passed by the House of Commons to ensure they are fit for purpose
    • Also holds the government to account to make sure that it is working in the best interests of the people.
    • There are peers who are specialists in particular areas
    • House of Commons has powers to overrule House of Lords but are not used often.
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The British Constitution: The Speaker

  • The Speaker
    • The chief officer of the House of Commons
    • Chairs debates in the House of Commons
    • Is neutral and does not represent a political party even though he or she is an MP, represents a constituency and deals with constituents' problems
    • Is chosen by other MPs in a secret ballot
    • Keeps order during political debates to make sure rules are followed
      • Includes making sure the opposition has a guarateed amount of time to debate issues which it chooses
    • Represents Parliament on ceremonial occassions
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The British Constitution: Elections

  • UK Elections
    • MPs
      • Elected at a General Election held at least every five years
      • If an MP dies or resigns, there will be fresh election, called by-election, in his or her constituency
      • Are elected through a system called 'first past the post'
        • In each constituency, the candidate who gets the most votes is elected.
    • The government is formed by a party that wins the majority of constituencies.
    • If no party wins, two party can join together to form a coalition
  • European parliamentary elections
    • Elections are held every five years
    • Elected members are called members of the European Parliament (MEPs)
    • Uses a system of proportional representation
      • seats are allocated to each party in proportion to the total number of votes it has won
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The British Constitution: Contacting Elected Membe

  • Contacting Elected Members
    • You can get contact details for all your representatives and their parties from your local library and from www.parliament.co.uk.
    • MPs, Assembly members, members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs), and MEPs are listed in The Phone Book, published by BT and in Yellow Pages
  • You can contact MPs by:
    • Letter or telephone at their constituency office
    • or at their office in the House of Commons:
      • The House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA
      • Telephone: 020 7729 3000
    • Many MPs, Assembly members, MSPs, and MEPS hold regular local 'surgeries' (which are advertised in local newspaper) where people can talk about issues that are of concern to them in person
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The Government: The Prime Minister

  • Prime Minister (PM)
    • The leader of the political party in power
    • Appoints the members of the cabinet and has control over many important public appointments
    • 10 Downing Street
      • Official home of the PM
      • In Central London near Houses of Parliament
    • Chequers
      • Name of the PM's country house outside London
  • The PM can be changed if the MPS in the governing party decide to do so, or if he or she wishes to resign
  • The PM usually resigns if his or her party loses a General Election
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The Government: The Cabinet

The PM appoints about 20 senior MPs to become ministers in charge of departments: These include:

  • Chancellor of the Exchequer - responsible for the economy
  • Home Secretary - crime, policy and immigration
  • Foreign Secretary - manages relationships with foreign countries
  • other ministers (called Secretaries of State) - responsible for subjects such as education, health and defence
  • These minsters form a cabinet - a committee which usually meets weekly and makes important decisions about government policy (many of these decisions have to be debated or approved by Parliament)
  • Each dept. also has a number of other ministers, called Ministers of State and Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State who take charge of particular areas of the department's work.
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The Government: The Opposition

  • Opposition
    • Second-largest party in the House of Commons
    • The leader of opposition usually becomes the PM if his or her party wins the next General Election
  • Leader of opposition
    • leads his or her party in pointing out what they see as the government's failures and weaknesses
    • One important opportunity to do this is at Prime Minister's Questions, which takes place every week while Parliament is sitting.
  • Shadow Ministers
    • Appointed by the Leader of Opposition
    • Form the shadow cabinet and their role is to challenge the government and put forward alternative policies.
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The Government: The Party System

  • Anyone aged 18 or over can stand for election as an MP but they are unlikely to win unless they have been nominated to represent one of the major political parties
  • Major political parties:
    • Conservative Party
    • Labour Party
    • Liberal Democrats
    • one of the parties representing Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish interests
  • Independents
    • MPs who do not represent any of the main political parties
    • Usually representan issue important to their constituency
  • Main political parties
    • Actively look for members of the public to join in their debates, contribute to their costs and help at elections for Parliament or for local government
    • They have branches in most constituencies and hold policy-making conferences yearly
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The Government: The Party System

  • Pressure and Lobby Groups
    • Organisations which try to influence government policy
    • Play an important role in politics
    • Some are representative organisations such as the CBI (Confederation of British Industry), which represnets the views of British business
    • Others campaign on particular topics such as:
      • The environment (e.g. Greenpeace)
      • Human rights (e.g. Liberty)
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The Government: The Civil Service

  • Civil servants
    • Support the government in developing and implementing its policies
    • Delivers public services
    • Are accountable to ministers
    • Are chosen on merit and are politically neutral - they are not political appointees
    • Are expected to carry out their role with dedication and a commitment to the civil service and its core values
      • Integrity
      • Honesty
      • Objectivity
      • Impartiality (including being politically neutral)
  • People can apply to join the civil service through an application process
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The Government: The Local Government

  • Local authorities
    • Democratically elected councils that governs towns, cities and rural areas in the UK.
    • Some areas have both district and county councils, which have different functions
    • Most large towns and cities have a single local authority
    • They provide range of services in their areas
    • They are funded by money from central government and by local taxes
  • Mayor
    • Appointed by local authorities
    • Is the ceremonial leader of the council
    • Is elected to be the effective leader of the administration
  • London has 33 local authorities, with the Greater London Authority and the Mayor of London coordinating policies across the capital
  • Local elections for councillors are held in May every year for most local authorities
  • Many candidates for council election as members of a political party
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The Government: Devolved Administrations

  • 1997
    • Some powers have been devolved from the central government to give people in Wales, Scotland and N. Ireland more control over matters that directly affect them.
  • 1999
    • Thre has been Welsh Assembly and a Scottish Parliament
  • There is also a Northern Ireland Assembly, although this has been suspended on a few occasions
  • Policy and laws governing defence, foreign affairs, immigration, taxation and social security all remain under central UK government control.
  • Many public services, such as education, are controlled by the devolved administrations
  • Devolved Administrations
    • Each have their own civil service
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The Government: Devolved Administrations

  • The Welsh Assembly
    • Formed in 1999 in Cardiff
    • Members: 60 AMs (can speak in either Welsh or English and all of the Assembly's publications are in both languages)
    • Elections: every 4 years
    • Powers: Since 2011 can make law without UK Parliament in 20 areas including:
      • education and training
      • health and social services
      • economic development
      • housing
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The Government: Devolved Administrations

  • The Scottish Parliament
    • Formed in 1999 in Edinburgh
    • Members 129 MSPs
    • Elections: Use a form of proportional representation
    • Powers: In all areas not specifically reserved by UK Parliament including:
      • civil and criminal law
      • health
      • education
      • planning
      • additional tax-raising powers
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The Government: Devolved Administrations

  • The Northern Ireland Parliament
    • First established in 1922.
    • Abolished in 1972 after The Troubles started in 1969
  • The Northern Ireland Assembly
    • Also known as Stormont
    • Established after the Belfast Agreement or Good Friday Agreement in 1998
    • Members: 108 MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly)
    • Elections: Use a form of proportional representation. Ministerial offices shared between main parties
    • Powers: In areas including:
      • education
      • agriculture
      • the environment
      • health
      • social services
    • Has been suspended several times but running uninterrupted since 2007
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The Government: The Media and Government

  • Proceeding in Parliament are broadcast on TV and published in official reports called Hansard
  • Written report can be found in large libraries and at www.parliament.uk
  • Information about political issues and events can be taken from newspapers (often called the press), TV, radio, and the internet.
  • The UK has a free press
    • What is written in newspapers is free from government control
  • Some newspaper owners and editors hold strong political opinions and run campaigns to try to influence government policy and public opinion.
  • By law, radio and TV coverage of the political parties must be balanced and so equal time has to be given to rival viewpoints.
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Voting: Who Can Vote?

  • Uk has had a fully democratic voting system since 1928
  • Present voting age: 18, was set in 1969
  • All UK-born and naturalised adult citizens have the right to vote
  • Adult citizens of the UK and citizens of the Commonwealth and the Irish Republic who are resident in the UK, can vote in all public elections
  • Adult citizens of other EU states who are resident in the UK can vote in all elections except General Elections
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Votin: The Electoral Register

  • To vote in a parliamentary, local or European election, you must have your name on the electoral register
  • If you're eligible to vote:
    • You can register by contacting your local council electoral registration office (usually based at your local council, if in Soctland, it may be elsewhere)
    • Or go to www.aboutmyvote.co.uk and enter your postcode if you don't know which local authority you come under.
  • Voter registration forms are in English, Welsh and some other language
  • Electoral register is updated every year in September or October
  • An electoral registration form is sent to every household and this has to be completed and returned with the names of everyone who is resident in the household and eligible to vote.
  • Individual Registration
    • System in N. Ireland
    • All those entitled to vote must complete their own registration form
    • Once registered, people stay on the register provided their personal details do not change.
    • Electoral Office for N. Ireland website: www.eoni.org.uk
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Voting: Where to Vote

  • Polling stations or Polling places (in Scotland)
    • The place where people vote in elections
    • Will be open from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm on the election day
  • What to do?
    • Before the election, you will be sent a poll card which tells you which polling station or polling place you should go to and when the election will take place.
    • Staff will ask for you name and address when you arrive at the polling station.
    • In N. Ireland, you'll also need to show a photographic ID
    • You will get the ballot paper which you'll take to a polling booth to fill in privately.
    • Follow the instructions on the ballot paper.
    • Once completed, put it in the ballot box.
  • Postal ballot
    • You can also register for a postal ballot when you register to vote
    • The ballot will be sent to your home before the election.
    • You'll fill it in and post it back.
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Voting: Standing for Office

  • Most citizens of the UK, the Irish Republic or the Commonwealth aged 18 or over can stand for public office.
  • There are some exceptions, including:
    • Members of the armed forces
    • Civil servants
    • People found guiltily of certain criminal offences
  • Members of the House of Lords may not stand for elevtion to the House of Commons but are eligble for all other public offices.
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Voting: Visiting the Parliament & Devolved Adminis

  • The UK Parliament
    • Public can listen to debates in the Palace of Westminster from public galleries in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords
    • You can write to your local MP in advance to ask for tickets or queue on the day at the public entrance. Entrance is free.
    • It is easier to get in to the House of Lords while it takes at least 1-2 hours to get in to the House of Commons.
  • Northern Ireland Assembly
    • MLAs meet in the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont in Belfast
    • To get into Stormont, contact the Education Service or contact an MLA
  • Scottish Parliament
    • MSPs meet in the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood in Edinburgh
    • You can get info, book tickets or arrange tours through visitor services
    • Write to them at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP, tel. no. 0131 348 5200 or email sp.bookings@scottish.parliament.uk
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Voting: Visiting the Parliament & Devolved Adminis

  • National Assembly for Wales
    • AMs meet in Welsh Assemby in the Senedd in Cardiff Bay
    • Senedd - is an open building
    • Book guided tours or seats in the public galleries for the Welsh Assembly by contacting 0845 010 5500 or assembly.bookings@wales.gsi.gov.uk
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The UK & International Institutions: The Commonwea

  • The Commonwealth
    • Is an association of countries that support each other and work together towards shared goals in democracy and development.
    • Most member states were once part of the British Empire, although a few countries which were not have also joined.
    • The Queen is the ceremonial head of the Commonwealth, which currently has 53 member states (See page 125)
    • Membership is voluntary
    • The Commonwealth has no power over its members, although it can suspend membership.
    • Is based on the core values of democracy, good government and the rule of law.
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The UK & International Institutions: The European

  • The European Union (EU)
    • Originally called the European Economic Community (EEC)
    • Was set up by 6 western European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands who signed the Treaty of Rome on March 25 1957
    • UK decided not to join the EU but became a member in 1973
    • There are now 23 EU member states
    • Croatia became a member state in 2013
  • European Laws
    • Are called directives, regulations or framework decisions
    • EU law is legally binding UK and all other EU member states.
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The UK & International Institutions: The Council o

  • The Council of Europe
    • Is separate from the EU
    • Has 47 member countries including UK
    • Is responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights in those countries
    • Has no power to make laws but draws up conventions and charters
    • The most well-known is the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, usually called the European Convention on Human Rights
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The UK & International Institutions: The United Na

  • United Nations (UN)
    • An international organisation with more than 190 countries as members
    • UK is part of UN
    • Was set up after the Second World War and aims to prevent war and promote international peace and security.
    • There are 15 members on the UN Security Council which recommends action when there are international crises and threats to peace.
    • The UK is one of 5 permanent members of the Security Council
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The UK & International Institutions: NATO

  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
    • Is a group of European and the North American countries that have agreed to help each other if they come under attack.
    • It aims to maintain peace between all of its members
    • UK is a member of NATO
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Respecting the law

  • All residents, regardless of their background, are expected to comply with the law and to understand that some things which may be allowed in other legal systems are not acceptable in the UK.
  • Those who do not respect the law should not be allowed to become permanent residents in the UK
  • The law is relevant to all areas in life in the UK
  • Ensure that you are aware of the laws which affects both your personal and business affairs
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Respecting the law: The Law in the UK

  • Criminal law
    • Relates to crimes which are usually investigated by the police or another authority such as a council, and which are punished by the courts
      • Carrying a weapon - criminal offence to carry a weapon of any kind (gun, knife, or anything that is made or adapted to cause injury), even if it's for self defence
      • Drugs - buying or selling drugs such as heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis is illegal in the UK
      • Racial crime - Causing harrasment, alarm or distress to someone because of their religion or ethnic group is illegal
      • Selling tobacco - It's illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under 18
      • Smoking in public places - It is against the law to smoke tobacco products in nearly every enclosed public place in UK. There are signs displayed where you can't smoke.
      • Buying alcohol - Selling alcohol or to buy alcohol for anyone under 18 is illegal. An exception is when people aged 16 or over accompanied by anyone 18 or over can drink alcohol with meal in a hotel or restaurant
      • Drinking in public - Drinking in alcohol free zones are not allowed. Dirnks can be confiscated police or move young people on from public places. You can be fined or arrested.
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Respecting the law: The Law in the UK

  • Civil law
    • Used to settle disputes between individuals or groups
    • E.g.
      • Housing law - includes disputes between landlords and tenants over issues such as repairs and eviction
      • Consumer rights - dispute about faulty goods or service
      • Employment law - include disputes over wages and cases of unfair dismissal or discrimination in the workplace
      • Debt - people might be taken to court if they owe money to someone
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Respecting the law: Police and their Duties

  • Job of police in UK is to:
    • protect life and property
    • prevent disturbances (aka keeping the peace)
    • prevent and detect crime
  • Police
    • Are organised into number of separate police forces headed by Chief Constables
    • They're independent of the government
  • Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs)
    • Publicly elected in November 2012
    • Responsible for the delivery of an efficient and effective police force that reflects the needs of their local communities
    • Set local police priorities and the local policing budget
    • They also appoint the Chief Constable
  • Police force
    • public service
    • Must obey the law
    • Must not misuse their authority, make a false statement, be rude or abusive or commit racial discrimination
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Respecting the law: Police and their Duties

  • Police officers are supported by police community support officers (PCSOs)
  • PCSOs have different roles according to the area. They usually:
    • patrol streets
    • work with the public
    • support police officers at crime scenes and major events
  • People are expected to help police prevent and detect crimes whenever they can
  • If you're arrested, a police officer will tell you the reason and you'll be able to seek legal advice
  • Complaints:
    • Police complaints system tries to put it right
    • You can complain about the police by going to a police station or writing to the Chief Constable of the police force involved
    • Complaints can also be made to an independent body:
      • Independent Police Complaints Commission in England and Wales
      • Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland
      • Police Ombudsman for N. Ireland
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Respecting the law: Terrorism & Extremism

  • Most serious terrorist threats are from Al Qa'ida, its affiliates and like-minded organisations
  • UK also faces threats from other kinds of terrorism, such as Northern Ireland-related terrorism.
  • Terrorist groups try to radicalise and recruit people to their cause
  • These groups attract very low levels of public support, but people who want to make their home in the UK should be aware of this threat.
  • It is important that all citizens feel safe, including feeling safe from all kinds of extremism (vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values), religious extremism and far-right extremism.
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The Role of the Courts: The Judiciary

  • Judiciary
    • Judges (who are together are called the judiciary)
    • Responsible for interpreting the law and ensuring that trials are conducted fairly. The government cannot interfere with this.
  • Government
    • Sometimes the actions of the government are claimed to be illegal
    • If the judges agree, then the government must either change its policies or ask Parliament to change the law
    • If judges find that a public body is not respecting someone's legal rights, they can order that body to change its practices and/or pay compensation.
    • Judges also make decisions in disputes between members of the public or organisation. These might be about contracts, property or employment rights or after an accident.
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The Role of the Courts: Criminal Courts

  • Magistrates' and Justice of the Peace Courts
    • England, Wales and N. Ireland - most minor criminal cases are dealt with in the Magistrates' Court
    • Scotland - minor criminal offences go to a Justice of the Peace Court
  • Magistrates and Justice of the Peace (JPs) are members of the local community
  • In England, Scotland and Wales
    • unpaid
    • don't need legal requirements
    • receives training to do the job
    • usually supported by a legal adviser
  • Magistrates decide the verdict in each case that comes before them and the person's sentence if found guilty.
  • In Northern Ireland, cases are heard by a District Judge or Deputy District Judge, who is legally qualified and paid.
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The Role of the Courts: Criminal Courts

  • Crown Courts and Sheriff Courts
    • England, Wales and Northern Ireland - serious offences are tried in front of a judge and a jury in a Crown Courts
    • Scotland
      • Serious cases are heard in a Sheriff Court with either a sheriff or a sheriff with a jury
      • Most serious cases are heard at a High Court with a judge and jury
  • Jury
    • Made up of members of the public chosen at random from the local electoral register
    • England, Scotland and Wales - jury has 12 members
    • Northern Ireland - jury has 15 members
    • Everyone summoned to do jury service must do it unless they aren't eligible or is ill
    • Jury has to listen to the evidence presented at the trial and decide a verdict of guilty or not guilty based on what they heard.
    • Not proven - 3rd verdict that is possible in Scotland
    • If the jury finds a defendant guilty, the judge decides on the penalty.
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The Role of the Courts: Criminal Courts

  • Youth Courts
    • England, Wales and Northern Ireland
      • The case of an accused person aged 10 to 17 is normally heard in a Youth Court in front of up to 3 specially trained magistrates or a District Judge.
      • Most serious cases will go to the Crown Court
      • Parents or carers of the young person are expected to attend the hearing
      • Members of the public are not allowed in Youth Courts
      • Name and photograph of the accused cannot be published in newspapers or used by the media.
    • Scotland
      • Children's Hearings System - a system used to deal with children and young people who committed an offence
    • Northern Ireland
      • Has a system of youth conferencing to consider how a child should be dealth with when they have committed an offence
  • Old Bailey - probably most famous criminal court in the world
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The Role of the Courts: Civil Courts

  • County Courts
    • Deal with a wide range of civil disputes. This includes:
      • People trying to get back money that is owed to them
      • Cases involving personal injury, family matters, breaches of contract, and divorce
  • In Scotland, most of these matters are dealt within the Sheriff Court
  • Most serious civil cases - e.g. when a large amount of compensation is being claimed - are dealt with in the High Court in England, Wales and N. Ireland, and Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland.
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The Role of the Courts: Civil Courts

  • The small claims procedure
    • An informal way of helping people to settle minor disputes without spending a lot of time and money using a lawyer
  • Is used for claims less than £5,000 in England and Wales, and £3,000 in Scotland and N. Ireland
  • The hearing his held in front of a judge in an ordinary room, and peope from both sides of the dispute sit around a table
  • Small claims can also be issued online through Money Claims Online
  • You can get details about the small claims procedure from your local County Court or Sheriff Court
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The Role of the Courts: Legal Advice

  • Solicitors
    • Trained lawyers who give advice on legal matters, take action for their clients and represent their clients in court
    • It is important to find out which aspects of law a solicitor specialises in and to check that they have the right experience to help you with your case.
    • Many advertise in local newspapers and in Yellow Pages
    • Citizens Advice Bureau
      • Can give you names of local solicitors and which areas of law they specialise in
    • You can get this info from the Law Society in England and Wales, Law Society of Scotland or Law Society of Northern Ireland
    • Solicitors' charges are usually based on how much time they spend on a case
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Fundamental Principles

  • Britain has a long history of respecting an individual's rights and ensuring esential freedoms
  • These have their roots in Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus, Bill of Rights of 1989 and have developed over time.
  • British diplomats and lawyers had an important role in drafting the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
  • UK - one of the first countries to sign the Convention in 1950
  • Some of the principles included in the European Convention on Human Rights
    • right to life
    • prohibition of torture
    • prohibition of slavery and forced labour
    • right to liberty and security
    • right to fair trial
    • freedom of thought, conscience and religion
    • freedon of expression (speech)
  • The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.
  • The government, public bodies and the courts must follow the principles
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Fundamental Principles: Equal Opportunities

  • UK laws ensure that people are not treated unfairly in any area of life or work because of:
    • age
    • disability
    • sex
    • pregnancy and maternity
    • race
    • religion or belief
    • sexuality
    • marital status
  • If you face problems with discrimination, you can get more info from the Citizens Advice Bureau or from
    • England and Wales: Equality and Human Rights Commission
    • Scotland: Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland and Scottish Human Rights Commission
    • N. Ireland: Equality and Human Rights Commission for N. Ireland
    • Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
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Fundamental Principles: Domestic Violence

  • Brutality and violence in the home is a serious crime
  • Anyone who is violent towards their partner - either a man or woman, married or living together - can be prosecuted
  • Anyone who forces a woman to have sex, inc. a woman's husband, can be charged with ****
  • A solicitor or Citizens Advice Bureau can explan the available options.
  • Refuges or shelters
    • Safe places to go and stay in
  • Emergency telephone numbers in the helpline section at the front of Yellow Pages, inc. for women, the number of the nearest women's centre.
  • You can also call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline or the police can help you find a safe place to stay
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Fundamental Principles: FGM and Force Marriage

  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
    • Also known as cutting or female circumcision
    • Is illegal in the UK
    • Practising FGM or taking a girl or woman abroad for FGM is a criminal offence
  • Forced Marriage
    • It is where one or both parties do not or cannot give their consent to enter into the partnership
    • Forcing another person to marry is a criminal offence
    • Forced Marriage Protection Orders were introduced in 2008 for England, Wales and N. Ireland under the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007
    • Court orders can be obtained to protect a person from being forced into a marriage or to protect a person in a forced marriage
    • Similar Protection Orders were introduced in Scotland in November 2011
    • A potential victim or someon acting for them can apply for an order.
    • Anyone found to have breached an order can be jailed for up to two years for contempt of court.
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Taxation: Income Tax

  • People in the UK have to pay income tax, which includes:
    • wages from paid employment
    • profits from self-employment
    • taxable benefits
    • pensions
    • income from property, savings and dividends
  • Money raised from income tax pays for government services such as roads, education, police and armed forces
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
    • System where for most people, the right amount of income tax is automatically deducted from their income by their employer and paid directly to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the government department that collects taxes.
  • Self-assessment
    • System where you need to pay your own tax if you're self-employed
  • Other people may need to complete a tax return form sent by HMRC and must be returned as soon as you have all the necessary info.
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Taxation: National Insurance

  • Almost everybody in the UK who is in paid workincluding self-employed people, must pay National Insurance Contributions
  • Money raised from this is used to pay for state benefits and services such as state retirement pension and National Health Service (NHS)
  • Employees have their NIC deducted from their pay by their employer
  • Self-employed people need to pay NIC themselves
  • Anyone who does not pay NIC will not be able to receive certain contributory benefits such as Jobseeker's Allowance or a full state retirement pension
  • Some workers, such as part time workers, may not qualify for statutory payments such as maternity pay if they do not earn enough
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Taxation: National Insurance

  • Getting a National Insurance number
    • National Insurance number - a unique personal account number
    • Makes sure that the NIC and tax you pay are properly recorded against your name
    • All young people in the UK are sent a NI number just before their 16th birthday
  • A non-UK national living in the UK and looking for work, starting to work or setting up as a self-employed will need a NI number. However, you can start work without one
  • If you have permission to work in the UK, you will need to telephone the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to arrange to get an NI number. You may be required to attend an interview.
  • The DWP will advice you of the appropriate application process and tell you which documents you'll need to bring to an interview if necessary (usually documents that proves your identity and you have a permission to work in the UK.
  • NI number does not, on its own, prove to an employer that you have the right to work in the UK
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  • You must be at least 17 years old to drive a car or motor cycle and you must have a driving licence to drive on public roads
  • You must pass a driving test, which test both your knowledge and practical skills
  • You need to be at least 16 years old to ride a moped, and there are other age requirements and special tests for driving large vehicles
  • Drivers can use their driving licence until they are 70 years old. After that, the licence is valid for 3 years at a time
  • In Northern Ireland, a newly qualified driver must display 'R' plate (for restricted driver) for 1 year after passing the test
  • If your driving licence is from a country in EU, Iceland, Liechtenstien or Norway, you can drive in the UK for as long as your licence is valid
  • Licence from another country, may be used in UK for up to 12 months. To continue driving after that, you must get a UK full driving licence
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  • For UK residents:
    • Your car or motor cycle must be registered at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
    • You must pay an annual road tax and display the tax disc, which shows that the tax has been paid, on the windscreen
    • You must also have valid motor insurance. Iti s a serious criminal offence to drive without insurance
    • If your vehicle is over 3 years old, you must take it for a Ministry of Transport (MOT) test every year.
    • It is an offence not to have an MOT certificate if your vehicle is more than 3 years old.
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Your role in the community: Values and Responsibil

  • Values and responsibilities include:
    • to obey and respect the law
    • to be aware of the rights of others and respet those rights
    • to treat others with fairness
    • to behave responsibly
    • to help and protect your family
    • to respect and preserve the environment
    • to treat everyone equally, regardless of sex, race, religion, age, disability, class or sexual orientation
    • to work to provide for yourself and your family
    • to help others
    • to vote in local and national government elections
  • Taking on these values and responsibilities will make it easier for you to become a full and active citizen
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Your role in the community: Being a Good Neighbour

  • Introduce yourself to people who live near you, when you move into a new house or apartment
  • Getting to know your neighbours can help you to become part of the community and make friends
  • Neighbours can be a good source of help
    • e.g.
    • they may be willing to feed your pets if you are away
    • offer advice on local shops and services
  • Prevent problems and conflicts with your neighbours by:
    • respecting their privacy
    • limiting how much noise you make
    • keep garden tidy
    • put your refuse bags and bins on the street or in communal areas if they are due to be collected.
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Your role in the community: Getting involved in lo

  • Volunteering and helping your community are important part of being a good citizen
  • Enables you to integrate and get to know other people
  • Helps make your community a better place if residents support each other
  • Helps fulfil your duties as a citizen such as behaving responsibly and helping others
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Supporting your community

  • Jury service
    • People on electoral register aged 18 to 70 are randomly selected to serve on a jury
  • Helping in schools
    • Parents can often in classroms by supporting activities or listening to children read
    • Many schools organise events to raise money for extra equipment or out-of-school activities such as book sales, toy sales, or bringing food to sell
    • Sometimes events are organised by parent-teacher associations (PTAs)
    • Volunteering to help with their events or joining the association is a way of doing something good for the school and making new friends in the local community
  • School governors and school boards
    • School governors or members of the school board in Scotland are people from the local community who wish to make a positive contribution to children's education
    • Must be aged 18 or over at the date of their election or appointment
    • They have important part in raising school standards.
    • Key roles: setting the strategic direction of the school, ensuring accountability, and monitoring and evaluating school performance
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Supporting the community: Supporting Political Par

  • Joining a political party is a way to demonstrate your support for certain views and to get involved in the democratic process
  • Canvassing
    • During election times, members try to persuade people to vote for their candidates - e.g. by handing out leaflets, door-to-door and ask for their support
  • British citizens can stand for office as a local councillorMP (or devolved equivalents) or member of European Parliament
  • If you're an Irish citizen, an eligible Commonwealth citizen or (except for standing to be an MP) a citizen of another EU country, you are eligible to stand for office
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Supporting the community: Helping local services

  • You can volunteer at local service providers. e.g. local hospitals and youth projects
  • Services often want to involve local people in decisions about the way in which they work
  • Advertisements for volunteers in universities, housing associations, museums and art councils' governing bodies
  • You can volunteer with the police and become a special constable or a lay (non-police) representative
  • You can also apply to become a magistrate
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Supporting the community: Volunteering

  • Volunteering
    • Working for good causes without payment
    • Benefits include:
      • meeting new people 
      • help make your community a better place
      • practice English skills
      • develop work skills that'll help you find a job
      • improve your CV
  • Other ways to volunteer
    • Working with animals
    • Youth work
    • Environmental work
    • Working with the homeless in a homeless shelter
    • Mentoring
    • Work in health and hospitals
    • Helping older people at a residential care home
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Supporting the community: Volunteering

  • Active charities and voluntary organisations in UK:
    • British Red Cross
    • Age UK - working with older people
    • National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) - with children
    • Crisis and Shelter - working with the homeless
    • Cancer Research UK - medical research charities
    • National Trust and Friends of the Earth - environmental charities
    • People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) - working with animals
  • Volunteers are needed to help with their activities and to raise money
  • There are opportunities for young people to volunteer and receive accreditation which will help them to develop their skills
  • National Citizen Service programme - gives 16 and 17 y/os the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities, develop their skills and take part in community project
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Supporting the community: Looking after the enviro

  • It is important to recycle as much of your waste as you can
  • Using recycled materials to make new products uses less energy and means we don't need to extract more raw materials from the earth
  • You can find what you can recycle at home at recyclenow.com and in the local area if you live in England.
  • Good way to support your local community
    • Shop for products locally when you can
    • This'll help businesses and farmers in your area and in Britain
    • It'll reduce carbon footprint, because the products you buy will not have to had travel as far
  • Walking around and using public transport is a good way to protect environment. Thus, kess pollution.
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