The Criminal Cases Review Commission invited members of the public to ask questions following its third annual Open Board meeting on Tuesday 29 November 2022.
The following questions were received, and the responses from the Board can be found beneath each question.
A summary of the meeting will be published to this website in due course.
How do your team come together to work as a team on cases, particularly in the context of discussing referrals?
Casework staff and Commissioners are encouraged to discuss cases with each other and exchange ideas and information, including co-working cases and having regular group meetings and training together.
We also operate Specialist Progress Groups where Case Review Managers working on cases of the same type come together to share knowledge and experience. In a small number of cases we also set a Commissioner as a Nominated Decision Maker to give input during the course of a review rather than waiting until it is assigned to them for decision.
While our headquarters in Birmingham allow plenty of office space for staff to meet in person, the CCRC has invested heavily in IT systems to allow us to also come together to discuss cases remotely – wherever we are working. Our remote first working policy means we can employ people we wouldn’t have previously been able to appoint before.
Decisions about whether or not cases can be referred are always taken by one or more of our Commissioners after considering the thorough investigations, recommendations and notes of CCRC Case Review Managers. Commissioners are appointed in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice. They work with the Senior Leadership Team to ensure we run efficiently.
Are you Core Participants in the Post Office IT Inquiry chaired by Sir Wyn Williams? If not why not?
The CCRC has an ongoing dialogue with the Inquiry, and has already made submissions in writing related to Horizon IT system convictions and raised the issue of private prosecutions with the JSC.
However, this is a wide-ranging inquiry and as the CCRC’s involvement only relates to one part of the work, we are not ‘core participants’. We expect our involvement with the inquiry to increase as they enter the phase looking at prosecutions
Why don’t you target university Innocence projects more / use university careers services to recruit?
The door is open for applications and we are looking for a diverse range of talent – particularly as case review managers.
The CCRC unapologetically sets a high bar for recruitment, and to be appointed as a case review manager an applicant has to demonstrate a wide range of skills, experiences and abilities, including experience of complex casework. We recognise there are many students who do have considerable experience, and we encourage them to apply for our roles. We would be happy to notify Innocence Projects and universities about existing vacancies and hope candidates would apply if they fit our criteria.
For those at an earlier stage of their careers who might not meet our criteria yet, the CCRC is keen to work with universities to help build pathways that will help young people to build up those skills. That’s why we have created a Trainee Case Review Manager role and recruit interns to offer young people a first step on the ladder of their legal career. We are also looking to carry out a breakout group of our Stakeholder Forum on the topic of recruitment soon to gather their thoughts and feedback about improvements we could make to the way we hire staff.
For Post Office referrals, how much weight does your referral carry in subsequent claims against the perpetrator of the malicious prosecution?
I’m afraid we do not have data related to claims against the Post Office after our referrals because the CCRC’s work is limited to deciding whether to refer a case back to the courts – we have no jurisdiction on claims against any past prosecutions.
To date the CCRC has referred 63 Post Office cases related to Horizon to the courts. 57 of the convictions have been overturned, 4 referrals were dismissed, 1 was abandoned and 1 is still waiting to be heard.
Anybody interested in finding out more about raising an application with the CCRC related to a Horizon conviction should visit our website.