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Inside Justice Manifesto for Reforming the UK Criminal Appeals System

(Posted on 25/06/24)


Our Manifesto for Reforming the UK Criminal Appeals System

By prioritising these reforms, political leaders can restore public confidence in the criminal justice system and ensure justice is served. Cases like Andrew Malkinson's and the recently overturned convictions of postmasters and mistresses highlight the urgent need for change. Inside Justice, with its expertise in legal, forensic, and investigative fields, is committed to supporting these efforts and aiding the wrongfully convicted. Your commitment to these changes is crucial for preventing future miscarriages of justice and safeguarding the rights of all individuals.

1. Revitalise the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC)

Revamp the CCRC to improve its effectiveness and ensure it fulfils its mandate as a true safeguard against miscarriages of justice:

Adopt a More Flexible Review Standard: Replace the "real possibility" test with a standard focused on thorough investigations into all credible claims of innocence.

Ensure Independence: Guarantee the CCRC’s operational independence from judicial expectations and government influence.

Enhance Transparency: Require the publication of detailed reasons for decisions to refer or not refer cases.

Establish statutory time limits for different stages of the appeal to ensure prompt review and resolution, preventing prolonged periods of injustice.

2. Ensure Universal Access to Expert Legal Representation

Guarantee legal aid and access to top-tier legal representation for all appellants, regardless of their financial status. Legal support should encompass access to expert witnesses, forensic analysis, and investigative resources necessary for building a compelling case for appeal. Inside Justice stands ready to provide expert assistance to appellants in navigating the complexities of their cases.

3. Facilitate Easier Access to New and Emerging Evidence

Amend existing legal frameworks to facilitate the admission of new and emerging evidence, particularly considering advancements in forensic science and investigative techniques. Simplify the process for presenting fresh evidence and reduce procedural barriers that impede its consideration. Inside Justice offer cutting-edge forensic and investigative expertise to support the uncovering of new evidence in wrongful conviction cases.

4. Implement Comprehensive Policies for Forensic Evidence Retention

Mandate Long-term Retention: Establish policies requiring the long-term retention of forensic evidence throughout the sentence duration and a reasonable period thereafter.

Ensure Proper Storage: Enforce proper storage and cataloguing practices to prevent evidence degradation and ensure easy retrieval.

Facilitate Access: Standardise procedures for accessing retained forensic evidence by appellants and legal representatives.

Leverage Advances: Encourage re-examination of evidence with new forensic technologies and methods.

Monitor Compliance: Conduct regular audits to ensure adherence to retention policies and standards, and implement statutory repercussions for compliance failures.

5. Secure Digital Handling of Case Files

Implement Secure Digital Storage Systems: Mandate the digitisation of case files to securely store sensitive information.

Enhance Data Privacy Protections: Introduce strict protocols to protect the privacy and confidentiality of sensitive data about victims and witnesses.

Facilitate Digital Access in Prisons: Equip prisons with read-only, user-restricted technology for inmates to securely access their digital case files.

Develop Secure Transfer Protocols: Establish secure methods for transferring digital case files to and from legal representatives.

Regular Audits and Oversight: Implement audits to ensure adherence to digital storage and transfer protocols and address any breaches promptly, and implement statutory repercussions for compliance failures.

Criminal Justice Alliance, Registered with Fundraising Regulator, Member Organisation of Chartered Institute of Fundraising