Criminal Cases Review Commission
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CCRC refers convictions of trafficking victim to Crown Court

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has decided to refer a woman’s convictions to the Crown Court because fresh evidence indicates she is a victim of human trafficking.    

Before magistrates’ court in April 2003, May 2004 and September 2018, Ms AAC pleaded guilty to three counts of obtaining property by deception, using a false instrument for other than prescription drugs, entering the United Kingdom without leave, and theft.    

At the time of the 2003 and 2004 convictions, there were obligations on the UK to protect victims of trafficking but, based on the understanding of the law as it then was, it could not now be argued that the convictions were an abuse of process.  

Since that time the understanding and treatment of victims of trafficking who commit offences has developed. It now appears Ms AAC was denied the protection to which she was entitled as a victim of trafficking.   

Regarding her 2018 conviction, at the time of her arrest, charge, conviction, and sentencing there were clear indicators that Ms AAC was a credible victim of trafficking. However, this failed to prompt any investigation by prosecuting authorities or Ms AAC’s defence team.  

Ms AAC was also not advised that she may have had a defence under section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and it does not appear the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) gave any consideration to her possible status as a victim of trafficking when deciding to prosecute.  

CCRC chairman Helen Pitcher OBE said:

“This is someone who was a victim but was wrongly treated as an offender.  

“Some of these convictions are now two decades old, but there is no time limit on making an application to the CCRC.  

“If you believe you have been wrongly convicted of a criminal offence or wrongly sentenced, and you have already tried to appeal through the courts in the usual way, you can come to us.  

“We normally need to identify something new and significant, capable of making the court view your case differently – this could be a new legal argument or fresh evidence.”   

Following a detailed review of this case, the CCRC has concluded that there is a real possibility that Ms AAC’s appeals will be successful.  

As Ms AAC’s convictions all arose from guilty pleas in the magistrates’ court, the CCRC considers there are exceptional circumstances that justify the referral of these convictions in the absence of an appeal, as at section 11 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1995.

Notes to Editors  

  1. The CCRC has decided to anonymise this press release on the basis that there are specific safeguarding concerns in respect of Ms AAC due to her status as a victim of trafficking.  
  2. The CCRC cannot publicise operational detail about investigations and is bound by legal limitation on what we can share publicly from our case reviews (see section 23 of Criminal Appeal Act 1995).    
  3. The CCRC is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently investigating suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.   
  4. There are currently 10 Commissioners who bring to the CCRC considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the King on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.    
  5. The CCRC usually receives around 1,400 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Since starting work in 1997, the CCRC has referred around 3% of applications to the appeal courts.    
  6. The CCRC considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made. New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal.  Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”.    
  7. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.   
  8. More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at The CCRC can be found on Twitter @ccrcupdate and Instagram the_ccrc  


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