The Criminal Cases Review Commission’s internal review of disclosure is now complete, and the CCRC is today publishing a report of its findings on that review.
The CCRC’s report makes 11 recommendations for improvements to how disclosure issues are approached, both within the CCRC’s own casework and by the wider Criminal Justice System. The CCRC has shared its report with relevant criminal justice agencies so that learning points can be addressed.
The CCRC undertook in July 2018 to conduct a review of how disclosure had been handled by the police and the CPS in a specific sample of cases that the Commission had already considered as applications. The chosen sample consisted of 306 rape cases considered by the Commission between April 2016 and March 2018. That review is now complete.
The aim of the exercise has been:
a) to consider in each case the approach of, and the interaction between, the CPS and the Police in relation to disclosure, and
b) to consider the approach in the CCRC review to the disclosure process in the prosecutions in question.
It was not within the Commission’s gift to conduct a comprehensive review of how disclosure is or was working in the wider justice system. The aim of this review was to analyse a relevant sample of the Commission’s own case reviews to ascertain whether there is reason to think we may have been missing opportunities to refer for appeal convictions, and in particular, rape convictions, due to problems with the disclosure process or any issues with the way in which our casework processes deal with disclosure matters.
The full report can be seen here.
The CCRC is pleased to report that no major concerns as to the safety of the convictions reviewed were uncovered during its Disclosure Review. However, it is clear that there is further work for the police, CPS, Courts Service and the CCRC to do to improve the disclosure process in the future. The CCRC’s report makes 11 recommendations for improvements to how disclosure issues are approached, both within the CCRC’s own casework and by the wider Criminal Justice System.
We continue to be mindful of the central role that proper disclosure plays in the criminal process and in the achievement of appropriate and safe convictions. The conduct of this disclosure review has contributed to our understanding of how disclosure is operating and helped us to better understand how we need to develop in certain areas in order to ensure that we remain in a position to understand how disclosure failings arise and to spot them when they do. We hope it may also be of some use to others.
The Commission’s earlier statements on its disclosure review containing more information about the origin, methodology and sample selection in stages one and two can be found here.
• In light recent concerns about disclosure issues in the justice system the CCRC has produced some specific words of guidance for applicants and potential applicants who think that disclosure may be an issue in their case. That guidance can be found here.
This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 232 0906 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for editors
- The Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.
- There are currently 10 Commissioners who bring to the Commission considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.
- The Commission usually receives around 1,500 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Typically, around 3.5%, or one in 29, of all applications are referred to the appeal courts.
- The Commission considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made. New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal. Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”.
- If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.
- More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at www.ccrc.gov.uk The Commission can be found on Twitter using @ccrcupdate