Internal CCRC Research Project on Loss of Time Orders (Kiran Telhat)
Section 29 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1968 enables the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) (CACD) to direct that all or part of the time that an applicant for permission to appeal has spent in custody since the commencement of the appeal proceedings shall not count in relation to the sentence they are serving. A loss of time order cannot be made when permission to appeal has been given or when the appeal comes to the Court by way of a reference from the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).
One of the themes that has arisen from the CCRC’s visits to prisons is the growing fear amongst the prison population of having sentences increased by the Court via loss of time orders. This fear comes with the misconception from prisoners that they could be made to serve years, or even the whole of their sentence again. This fear is widespread, particularly amongst vulnerable groups of prisoners, and it is a fear which appears to dissuade people from appealing to the Court. It may well contribute to the high number of applications to the CCRC where the individuals have not previously attempted to appeal.
This internal CCRC research project, conducted by CCRC intern Kiran Telhat, began after ‘loss of time’ was raised as an issue during Lord Justice Fulford’s visit to the CCRC in early 2020. The research has also been conducted against the background of the number of appeals to the Court of Appeal having dropped considerably over the last 3 years, and it therefore raises the question whether loss of time orders are now needed as a deterrent. This project also forms part of the CCRC’s objective to gain an increased awareness of applicants’ understanding of the Criminal Justice System so that we can better respond to the needs of applicants and protected groups.
The report presents:
1) A literature review in connection with loss of time orders.
2) Quantitative data on the frequency of loss of time orders being raised as an issue in CCRC ‘no appeal’ cases and in telephone calls to the CCRC.
3) Qualitative and quantitative data from prisoner groups and CCRC staff on the frequency of loss of time orders being raised as an issue by applicants and potential applicants.
4) The key messages the CCRC should be sending out to applicants about loss of time orders.
The report concludes that:
1) There are widespread misconceptions among the prison population about what loss of time orders are and how they operate.
2) Rather than acting as a deterrent to those wishing to bring unmeritorious appeals, it seems that loss of time orders may be acting as a fear mechanism, especially in cases where they are not clearly understood. Loss of time orders may be acting as a barrier to meritorious appeals.
3) The most vulnerable group negatively impacted by loss of time orders appear to be those who are serving short sentences. The fear of receiving a loss of time order may deter them from making an appeal, despite the fact that they may have meritorious grounds of appeal.
4) It is arguable that the negative impact and fear associated with loss of time orders now outweighs their effectiveness at deterring unmeritorious appeals.
Link to final report: Loss-of-Time-CCRC-Intern-Project-2020-Final-Report.pdf