Criminal Cases Review Commission
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Annual Report & Accounts 2007/08 - Dramatic Improvements in Waiting Times for Applicants

Annual Report & Accounts 2007/08 - Dramatic Improvements in Waiting Times for Applicants

CRIMINAL CASES REVIEW COMMISSION News Release (CCRC 12/08) issued by The Government News Network on 17 July 2008

The Commission is the independent public body which came into existence in 1997 to investigate possible miscarriages of justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and decide if cases should be referred to the appeal courts.

The Annual Report and Accounts of the Criminal Cases Review Commission for 2007/08 is published today.

The Commission received 984 new applications in the year, 67 fewer than the previous year. A total of 1,087 cases were closed (compared with 990 the previous year). This has helped to erode the queue of cases waiting to be reviewed, and has significantly reduced waiting times for applicants.

These reductions in waiting times have been achieved despite a real-terms reduction in the Commission's budget which has necessitated a corresponding reduction in the number of case reviewers. In his foreword, the Chairman of the Commission, Professor Graham Zellick, refers to these achievements and says "This is not only a vindication of the changes we have introduced, but a resounding tribute to our staff whose commitment and energy I salute".

Looking to the future, the prospect of further budget reductions means that the successes of the current year are unlikely to be carried over into subsequent years. The Chairman continues in his Foreword: "Our pleasure at the impact of the new arrangements on waiting times is tempered by the knowledge that these gains which have been secured through so much effort are unlikely to be sustained if the proposed budget reductions .... for each of the next three years are confirmed."

The Commission referred 28 cases to the appeal courts in the year.
Of the 23 convictions referred, one was in respect of drug-related offences. Seven concerned sexual offences, six were for murder, seven for offences involving non-fatal force, and two concerned dishonesty.

In the year, the appeal courts decided the cases of 46 individuals previously referred by the Commission. Of these, 65% resulted in a quashed conviction or a reduced sentence.

Three of these involved decisions of the House of Lords, overturning earlier Court of Appeal decisions to uphold the convictions.


Copies of the Annual Report and Accounts are available to download as PDF files on the Commission website http://www.ccrc.gov.uk .


NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The Criminal Cases Review Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for reviewing 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.

2. There are 11 Commissioners who bring to the Commission considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments' Code of Practice.

3. The Commission receives around 1,000 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Our current rates of referral are around 4%, which means around one in 25 of all applications are referred to the appeal courts.

4. The Commission 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".

5. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.


Criminal Cases Review Commission

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