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Most of the time we will communicate with you or your representative in writing. We always send a letter in the post to acknowledge when an application has arrived. So, if you have applied to us, but have not had a letter from us within ten days of applying, it means we did not receive your application, so please get in touch again. We will usually post a letter to tell you about any developments in your case, so it is important that we have the right address for you. Don’t forget to tell us if your address changes or you move prisons.
The rules on communicating with the CCRC from prison are set out in Prison Service Order 4400. If you have trouble with reading or writing we will try to find a suitable way of communicating with you. We will also consider translating material into other languages where necessary.
You cannot apply by e-mail because we need you to sign the application form. But, after you have applied in writing, you can contact us by e-mail us about your case.
In many cases we can find out everything we need to in writing, or on the phone, without needing to meet the applicant in person. We will come to meet you when we are reviewing your case if we think we need to talk to you face to face. We do not usually receive visitors at the CCRC office; when we do it, it is only after we have agreed the meeting in advance.
Yes, but we like to have things in writing because it means we have a clear record of everything so that we can go back to it when we are thinking about your case.
The CCRC was created specially to review cases where someone says they have been the victim of a miscarriage of justice. We have special legal powers under section 17 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 which mean we can get any information that we need from any public body in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This means that we can get sensitive information from organisations like social services, the armed forces and intelligence agencies. We can obtain material that the police and the prosecution did not have to disclose to the defence (including Public Interest Immunity or PII material) and information from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and others. We will use our special legal powers to get the information we think we need to review a case. We may use any information to review a case, but we will always be very careful about releasing sensitive information to anyone outside the CCRC.
How long your case takes will depend on a number of things like how complicated it is. Some cases are quite straightforward and can be dealt with in a few weeks. Other cases are very complicated and can take many months to review.
We look at cases in the order in which they arrive, but we deal with the cases of people in prison before those of people who are out of prison or who didn’t go to prison. If you received a life sentence and are out on licence, we will treat you in the same way that we would treat someone who is in custody. There may be special reasons why a particular case should be looked at more urgently. These special reasons can be things like concerns about the health of the person applying, a serious illness affecting a potentially important witness, or something affecting how long evidence may last. The time to tell us about any special reasons in your case will usually be after we have written to you to say we will be reviewing your case.
The CCRC will look carefully at all the points made by an applicant or their representative, but in the end we will decide what enquiries we think are needed in each case. We will consider requests for particular investigations, but we will only carry out work if we think it will help the review. Our decisions about what investigations to do are always based on the relevance and potential evidential value of the work in question.