21 December 2017
Justice and fairness
In the press this week there has been two cases where the issue of disclosure in a criminal trial has focused attention on a criminal justice system with serious issues to address against a background of police cuts. Both cases resulted in the CPS eventually offering no evidence. For one defendant he spent two years on bail, the other four months in custody.
The reality is that a system can only face so many cuts. As a society we have to decide whether the serious and increased chances of innocent people being sent to prison is a price worth paying.
The Police are duty bound to investigate any case fairly and impartially and pursue all reasonable lines of enquiry, whether that points towards or away from a suspect’s guilt. The police must be fair and remember the aim of the criminal justice system is also to secure the acquittal of the innocent.
When an investigation occurs, the police must record all evidence gathered during the investigation whether they propose to rely upon that evidence as part of their case. If they do not feel the evidence will form part of the case for the Prosecution, they must log the information on a schedule of unused material and serve this schedule upon the Defence. The Defence will then have a chance to look at the schedule and flush out material that may assist the Defence or undermine the Prosecution case.
It is not for the police to keep matters away from the schedule without very good reason and judicial approval.
It is clear that this is not always happening. The evidence kept back, as in the above cases, could well be the evidence that shows innocence and avoids injustice.
Whether it is a resource issue, training issue or more serious than this, the end result is that without a proper disclosure process with the Police and Prosecution held to account, the criminal justice system will be brought into disrepute and the whole trust of a criminal justice system will dissolve very quickly.
In the circumstances it is crucial that if you face proceedings - that will have serious consequences to you, if convicted - that you obtain the best advice and representation from a firm which can ensure the police and prosecution are fully held to account for their actions and evidence, that is critical to your defence, is properly uncovered to avoid the risk of serious injustice.
B P Collins are committed to fully advancing and representing your interests. Never has this been more important.
New principal lawyer Jonothan Moss has more than 25 years of defending cases of all types. He is more than happy to chat to you about any aspect of the criminal justice process. Call 01753 278665 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with Jonothan.