Sara Williams, Lyndon Harris and I decided to start the UK Criminal Law Blog in the early autumn of 2012. I have been a barrister in chambers for 10 years, Sara is a practising barrister, just out of pupillage, and Lyndon a BVC graduate who is currently the editor of Banks on Sentence. Whilst this was an accidental mix to some extent, the mix of experience seems to work very well.
The blog came about as a result of discussions on Twitter lamenting the lack of legal knowledge and understanding amongst both the general public and, more significantly, the press (where the misreporting of even basic things such as what a sentence means was huge). Given the great interest in criminal law among the public, it was surprising that no-one had tried to fill that gap before.
The blog is mainly aimed at explaining the law to the general public. Sentencing is such a complicated area of law (if you go and watch the Court of Appeal you will see just how many mistakes are made) where there is a lot of misinformation. Having said that, there are plenty of “legal” readers (some of whom find our factsheets on the law easier to use than Archbold).
Since then there have been 400 odd blog posts, most focussing on either explaining the law (such as common offences, principles or legal terms), or attempting to explain a particular sentencing decision which has attracted media attention. We have also published longer pieces looking at cases from the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and ECHR and provide an overview for non-lawyers and a deeper analysis for practitioners.
We have recently started doing a podcast for the blog and one way that we hope to develop the blog is to make this a regular (and well produced) product. An aim for the future is to look at whether we can get this accredited for CPD.
We use WordPress (and have recently upgraded to a paid service) and would certainly recommend it. It is not quite as user friendly as it claims to be, but once you get your head around it, it’s pretty straightforward. The key to blogging (I would imagine on any subject) is just practice.
The more you blog, the better you get. It is very useful to have three of us doing it, especially as for us the times that work takes over don’t seem to coincide, so when one of us is going through a particularly busy period, the others are there to take over.
One thing that we do is when one of us writes a piece (and it is very rare for any of them to be collaborative pieces) it is generally not published until it’s been checked by one of the others – a good check on accuracy, quality and grammar.
Dan Bunting is a barrister at 2 Dr Johnson’s Buildings.