23rd January 2006




A University of Lincoln lecturer has taken the law into his own hands after spotting a mistake in a statute being drafted by the Home Office.


Head of Law Professor Richard Stone noticed a drafting error in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 which was amending police powers to obtain search warrants.


The error meant that it would be impossible for the police to obtain certain warrants, in relation to stolen goods for example, after the amendments had come into force.


However it wasn’t until Professor Stone wrote an article which was published in the New Law Journal that the Home Office realised their mistake.


“I contacted the Home Office prior to writing the article to draw their attention to the error but they didn’t seem interested in doing anything about it,” explains Professor Stone. “So I wrote a short article entitled ‘Impossible Conditions for Search Warrants’ which appeared in the New Law Journal on 11th November 2005.


“Afterwards I received an email from the Home Office indicating that they have changed the law to take account of my comments.”


The email, sent to Professor Stone from Andrew Dodsworth at the Home Office, thanked him for bringing the problem to their attention: “I thought you would like to know that your article in the New Law Journal on 11 November, ‘Impossible Conditions for Search Warrants’ has prompted us to lay a draft Order amending PACE to deal with the drafting error you highlighted.


“Your article was the first time the Legal Adviser’s Branch here had been aware of the problem although I understand that you had raised the issue with administrators….Once again thank you for alerting us to the issue.”



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