News Round-Up Week Ending 23.1.15
(Posted on 23/01/15)Share:
Nealon & Hallam v Grayling:
In a test case for the new stricter compensation regime introduced last year, Victor Nealon and Sam Hallam, victims of miscarriages of justice and 24 yearsâ€™ wrongful incarceration between them, are to take Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to court.
The change to the law means compensation is paid only when the quashing of a conviction shows innocence â€œbeyond reasonable doubtâ€.
Private Forensic Services a â€˜Threat to Justiceâ€™
A National Audit Office report published this week warns of the potential for criminal trials to collapse as a result of cuts and privatisation of forensic science services.
â€œIf suppliers did pull out of the market this could present a risk of service interruption, and lack of capacity could hold up criminal cases or cause them to collapse,â€ the report says.
â€œForensic science is now becoming police-controlled,â€ Peter Gill, Professor of Forensic Genetics at the University of Oslo, told the Independent. â€œItâ€™s difficult enough when youâ€™re not working for the police; youâ€™re put under a lot of pressure to report what the police want you to report. If youâ€™re not protected from that, then the more vulnerable forensic scientists are going to report cases wrongly. Iâ€™m absolutely convinced this is happening now. You canâ€™t put forensic science solely in police hands. It would be disastrous.â€
Legal Aid Cuts a â€˜Threat to Justiceâ€™: 1 in 5 Defends Self
The Independent reports from a survey of justices across England and Wales, conducted in conjunction with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) and the Magistratesâ€™ Association.
Seven out of 10 magistrates thought self-representation was a serious problem and a threat to the smooth running of the justice system.
â€œDefendants in-person are at a constant disadvantage and justice is often not done as a result,â€ one magistrate said. â€œTrials take longer and often prove to have been unnecessary.â€
â€œWe see people pleading guilty when they could have a real defence,â€ said Greg Foxsmith of the London Criminal Courts Solicitorsâ€™ Association (LCCSA).
CCRC Â£1m Short
Lord Garry Runciman and Professor Michael Zander QC, authors of the 1993 report of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice, which led to the Criminal Appeals Act 1995 and the establishment of the Criminal Cases Review Commission, have given evidence to the House of Commons Inquiry into the CCRC.
In an interview last year with Brian Thornton for thejusticegap.com, Lord Runciman admitted his concern that government might cut funding for the CCRC once memories of such as the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four had begun to fade.
â€œWe were very aware that the calibre of the case managers was going to be crucial,â€ he emphasised, â€œand that comes back to the resources question. Youâ€™ve got to be able to recruit and retain and support the people with the necessary skills to conduct these very complex investigations in such a way that hopefully miscarriages are actually corrected. But I hoped that, if a new independent authority was set up on our recommendation, the government wouldnâ€™t just tick the box and then start cutting back on the funding.â€
Politicians â€˜Stupidâ€™ to Claim Credit for Falling Crime
The Liberal Democrat former Home Office minister has said the government should take no credit for improved crime rates since crime appears to be falling globally.