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News Round-Up Week Ending 25.11.16

(Posted on 24/11/16)


1 in 10 Wrongfully Convicted!

In a book published this week, Dutch philosopher Ton Derksen claims more mistakes are being made in the criminal justice system and more innocent people wrongly convicted than previously thought, reports

False conviction rates for serious crimes resulting in life imprisonment are especially high. Derksen estimates error rates for the criminal justice system at between 4 and 11 per cent, and as high as 15 per cent for serious violent crime.

Every year, around a thousand people are likely to be wrongfully convicted in the Netherlands. His results are consistent with other countries where the review procedures are more accessible and more errors come to light.

In the UK, with over 1 million criminal convictions annually, Derksen’s estimate would be 100,000 wrongful convictions, whilst, with approximately 10,000 life sentences handed down, that would represent 1,500 miscarriages of justice.

The book includes a Norwegian study which found that judges are more likely to accept incomplete evidence when trying serious offences, increasing the risk of miscarriages of justice in cases such as murder and rape.

Derksen, emeritus professor of philosophy of science, has spent his career looking at questions of truth and how people interpret evidence and statistics. The latest book is based upon new research among prisoners and forensic experts and, though focusing on the Netherlands, could be of international significance.