Press release issued 1 February 2013A review of the Criminal Cases Review Commission’s (CCRC) effectiveness as the only gateway back to the Court of Appeal for convicted persons who have failed in their first appeal is published today [01 Feb].
Findings from the Innocence Network UK (INUK)-led report has revealed how innocent victims of wrongful convictions can be failed and calls for urgent reforms to ensure innocent victims of wrongful convictions are better assisted.
The report, comprising a series of recommendations from some of the UK’s leading academic experts, criminal appeal practitioners and former CCRC Commissioners, was collated at a recent INUK symposium to mark the CCRC’s 15th anniversary.
Contributions from victims of wrongful convictions and alleged innocent victims of wrongful conviction who are struggling to achieve a referral by the CCRC back to the Court of Appeal (Paddy Joe Hill of the Birmingham Six, Susan May and Eddie Gilfolye), and representatives of organisations that campaign for, and provide much needed support to, alleged victims of wrongful conviction and their families, were also included.
The review sought to address concerns from individuals working on cases of alleged wrongful convictions that the CCRC is not the extra safety net for innocent victims of wrongful convictions, and the growing list of cases refused referral despite serious doubts about the evidence which led to conviction.
Members at the event were asked for their thoughts as to how they think the CCRC could be reformed to give the innocent a better chance of overturning their convictions, while accepting that the criminal justice system is not perfect, and that innocent victims of wrongful conviction may be failed by the CCRC.
Although differing views are expressed in the report there is a broad consensus on the following issues, these are:
The INUK report on the need to reform the CCRC coincides with the Ministry of Justice’s triennial review to examine the key functions of the CCRC and whether the functions are still required. A pre-publication copy of the INUK report was sent to the Ministry of Justice on the 13 December 2012 to be considered in its review.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission
Set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995, the CCRC took over responsibility of reviewing alleged miscarriages of justice from the Home Secretary on the 31 March 1997.
Innocence Network UK
Innocence Network UK (INUK) is a pro bono organisation established in the University of Bristol Law School in September 2004. Its aim is to facilitate casework and communications in the area of wrongful conviction. INUK has 26 member innocence projects, 25 based in universities across England, Wales and Scotland and one in a corporate law firm. As a network, INUK is collectively working on 104 cases of alleged wrongful convictions. For more information, see www.innocencenetwork.org.uk.
Dr Michael Naughton
Dr Michael Naughton is a Reader in Sociology and Law in the Law School and School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS), University of Bristol. He has specialised in the area of wrongful convictions for over a decade and has written extensively on the subject. He is the Founder and Director of the Innocence Network UK (INUK) and the University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP).
Ms Gabe Tan
Gabe Tan is a Research Assistant at the School of Law, University of Bristol. She is the Executive Director of the Innocence Network UK (INUK) and the University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP).