Criminal Cases Review Commission
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CCRC Answers to Panorama Questions

Here are all of the questions that Panorama put to us and the answers we supplied. We publish them here because, having seen the Panorama programme on 30th May, we did not feel that they had been represented clearly or given sufficient weight.

The CCRC has been accused by certain stakeholders of being “moribund and desk bound” whilst failing to properly investigate some cases. What is your response to that? 

There is no sense whatsoever in the idea that office based investigations are, in the context of the type of cases we work with, intrinsically less valuable than any other types of inquiry. Indeed, it is fatuous to suggest that somehow so called “boots on the ground” investigations are always to be preferred and that anything else is lazy or second best..

We consider a lot of cases where the offence in question occurred years earlier. The passage of time will often mean that activities such as visiting the scene of the crime years or decades later can serve little or no purpose. Where that is the case, we won’t waste time on such visits for the sake of presentation or to satisfy some misconceived idea of what an investigation ought to look like.

We do whatever types of investigation we think a case requires.  As we demonstrate week in week out in numerous cases, we will take whatever steps we think may be necessary in a case and conduct any kind of inquiries we believe we need from interviewing applicants and witnesses to instructing leading experts in whatever discipline is relevant.

Probably our greatest strength as an investigative body is our unfettered access to the paper trail, and increasingly the digital footprint, left by the investigation, prosecution and trial processes that take place in criminal cases.

The detailed analysis of all that material, and of the products of the various police databases, and sources of intelligence and other sensitive material that only we have access to, are intrinsically desk based activities; we make no apology for doing that skilled and careful work in an office environment.  The recent discussion of disclosure issues in the justice system highlights the importance of our legal powers of access to material whether disclosed or otherwise.

Internal board minutes passed to BBC Panorama suggest the commission suffers from poor staff morale, chronic under staffing, high sickness levels and problems with workload. Do you accept these issues affect overall CCRC performance?

It is the everyday work of a Board to be involved in discussions about morale, work load, staff sickness and so on. In fact it would be very odd if these things were not discussed by the Board; that they are should not be taken to indicate that there is any kind of crisis.

Sickness absence is one of our KPIs. We report on this area each year in our Annual Report where we discuss the reasons if our KPI target is missed.

Regarding staff morale, we use the very well known independent company OCR to conduct a staff survey every two years. In recent years we have twice won OCR awards for our results in the area of employee engagement – which broadly equates to staff morale.

Here are the results on morale for the last two surveys (2014 and 2016). The figures that they show are, by any standards, at the very top end of results in this area.

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