Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Thanks to Dr Ros Burnett, Oxford University Criminology Department, for bringing the following news items to our attention
Some FACT members have suffered injustice due to failures of disclosure. We now have a very welcome opportunity to submit evidence to the Justice Committee. We believe that contrary to the view previously expressed by the DPP Alison Saunders, there are innocent people in prison as a result of disclosure failures. Any investigation into such failures should be extended to those convicted and maintaining innocence, not just those cases which are live.
(1) The Justice Committee has launched its inquiry on Disclosure of Evidence in Criminal Cases and invites people to submit evidence to it through the website by Wednesday 21st March 2018.
(2) The Law Society is asking criminal law solicitors to get in touch if they know of cases where failures in the disclosure of ‘unused material’ evidence led, or could have led, to a miscarriage of justice.
Criminal practitioners will be aware of the ongoing problems with disclosure of evidence and failures by the police and prosecution to share ‘unused material’, evidence which may undermine the prosecution case or support the defence case. The Law Society invites solicitors to email details of any cases in which disclosure issues may have resulted in a miscarriage of justice. Please submit cases by email by March 9th.
(3) The BBC commissioned a 2-week survey on disclosure failures in conjunction with
the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association and the Criminal Bar Association. The results were broadcast in a BBC File-on-4 programme on 27th Feb. Listen here
According to the Law Gazette the survey found that 97% of respondents said they had encountered disclosure of evidence failings in the past 12 months. More than half (55%) encountered these problems every day or every week. The failures were evenly split as occurring with the CPS or police. At least four in 10 practitioners encountered a disclosure failure in the magistrates’ court, 45% were encountered in the Crown court. Nearly eight in 10 said failures had delayed the trial. More than eight in 10 said the failures put the defence under unreasonable logistical or time pressure. Over half (56%) said the failures caused a case to collapse. A third said the failures resulted in ‘possible wrongful conviction or miscarriage of justice’.
(4) Law in Action programme on Failings in Evidence Disclosure on BBC Radio 4 27th February 2018
Joshua Rozenberg asks why are police and prosecutors so unwilling to disclose evidence that could clear suspects? And he asks the head of @cpsuk Alison Saunders if she still doesn’t think anybody is wrongly in prison today because of these disclosure failures.