UK: REVIEW OF THE EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS OF DISCLOSURE IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

On 15th November, the Home Office reported that the Attorney General has published the Government’s Review of the efficiency and effectiveness of disclosure in the criminal justice system.  Its findings and recommendations include –

  • investigators and prosecutors would benefit from simpler, clearer, and more practical assistance in performing their duties – changes should be made to simplify and modernise secondary legislation, guidelines, guidance and protocols that sit underneath CPIA 1996;
  • there have been failings in the rigour and application of the disclosure test in ‘volume crime’ cases – there should be a rebuttable presumption in favour of disclosure for categories of key documents/material that usually assist the defence; such items will be disclosed unless they do not satisfy the disclosure test;
  • roles and responsibilities between different law enforcement units and agencies, prosecutors, and advocates need to be clarified;
  • a sensitive disclosure strategy document ought to be created for all cases in which sensitive lines of enquiry and sensitive unused material exists;
  • the Manual of Guidance, to be amended to reflect the need to document all reasonable lines of inquiry;
  • audit trails to be prepared in a way that converts to supplying the key information to the prosecutor (and court or defence if appropriate), for example in relation to what lines of inquiry were pursued and how and why digital media were (or were not) examine;
  • DPP to update the Director’s Guidance on Charging to clarify the decision maker’s duty to ensure adequate disclosure assurance before a charging decision is made;
  • too many disclosure issues and tasks are left until too late a stage in litigation;
  • prosecutors to adapt an Early Case Planning Conference approach from complex cases to ensure progress is assessed and monitored on a tight timetable;
  • a lack of pre-charge discussion between investigators/prosecutors and those representing the suspect hamper early resolution of evidential issues, particularly where there is a large quantity of digital material;
  • provide more clarity on the legitimacy of using AI and flexibility with innovative processes other than pure scheduling

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/756436/Attorney_General_s_Disclosure_Review.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/creating-a-zero-tolerance-culture-for-disclosure-failings-across-the-criminal-justice-system

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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