1. Today’s report by the Justice Committee into disclosure failings in the criminal justice system is absolutely damning. To save you reading in full (although you should), here are the highlights. [THREAD]
2. As for what disclosure is and its importance, see my thread here from last year:
3. In short, disclosure is one of the most important parts of the criminal process. The state providing the accused with material which may reasonably undermine the prosecution case or assist the defence case. It is central to avoiding miscarriages of justice.
4. There is a sorry history of disclosure failings stretching back years, if not decades. Report after report (6 in the last 6 years) has pointed this out.
5. Part of the problem is lack of resources. Huge cuts to CPS budgets and staffing levels, huge cuts to the police and huge cuts to legal aid. #TheLawIsBroken #ItsAllInTheDamnedBook

The Committee has said that funding *must* be reviewed by government.
6. Part of the problem, however, is cultural. Too often disclosure is seen by police officers and the CPS as a “bureaucratic bolt-on”. A box-ticking irritant, rather than central to ensuring justice.
7. This attitudinal problem is critical, and is hinted at by the staggering complacency of the outgoing Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, who comes in for serious personal criticism in the report. Read these comments. This is resignation-grade failure.
8. Note also this dig at the CPS obsession with conviction statistics, compared to the attitude to disclosure.
9. The CPS is criticised for not properly recording disclosure failings, and therefore underestimating the prevalence of disclosure failings by up to NINETY PER CENT.
10. Even with that underestimate however, the number of cases recorded as collapsing for disclosure reasons has soared by 40 per cent in four years.
11. The Attorney General has overall responsibility for the CPS. The outgoing AG (Jeremy Wright QC, recently shunted to Culture) was also, like his predecessors, asleep at the wheel:
12. Away from the CPS, police culture - a failure to appreciate the importance of disclosure - remains a problem.
13. Another problem is the challenge posed by the increase in digital material collected in criminal investigations, such as mobile phone evidence. There is a clear need for further guidance on how to approach this issue (and the implications for privacy of complainants).
14. A final thought for magistrates’ courts. The report, and recent media attention, has been on Crown Court (usually sex) cases. But disclosure failure is rife across the system. The DPP ludicrously claimed magistrates’ courts are better. They are far, far worse.
15. The report concludes by setting out a number of recommendations. I’ll leave you with this as I mount my hobby horse and ride into the sunset. [ENDS]
Apparently the link to the report isn’t working. Try this:

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More from @BarristerSecret

Sep 25, 2018
There has been quite a lot of anger at this story. I understand why - it instinctively feels as if the bar is being set even higher for victims of serious sexual offences to get justice. As if we’re giving up on them.

But if I may offer a counterpoint from my book [1/6]
Something missing from the reporting and commentary is the fact that independent reviews have shown that, in Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) cases, the CPS misapply the evidential test more often than in non-sex cases. (Report here: justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmcpsi/inspect…) [2]
This is partly because of (understandable) eagerness to amend for an historically appalling indifference by police and prosecuting authorities towards often vulnerable victims of sexual abuse.

But it’s wrong to assume that prosecuting weak cases is without human cost. [3]
Read 6 tweets
Sep 18, 2018
Wouldn’t have been prosecuted in the US, of course. They have a constitutional right to bear-arms.
The replies to this tweet show Twitter at its most hateful and vengeful. You people need to shut up and appreciate good comedy.
Read 4 tweets
Sep 13, 2018
Protecting the Protectors is a noble and important aim.

Here’s why this new law does not achieve it. [THREAD]
Obviously assaults on emergency workers are unacceptable. That is so obvious as to be trite, but for the avoidance of doubt, that is my starting point. Anything we can do to offer protection to emergency workers should be seriously considered. But this new law is not serious.
It seeks to do two things:

1) Create a new offence of “assault against an emergency worker in the exercise of their functions”.

2) Create a “statutory aggravating factor” for more serious assaults.

Let’s break this down.
Read 15 tweets
Sep 12, 2018
It’s a reasonable question (although the answer would be easily discoverable to a journalist):

Because all defendants sentenced to a standard determinate custodial term are automatically released on licence after serving half of their sentence (s244 Criminal Justice Act 2003).
There are certain offences and situations where, if a judge believes a defendant to be “dangerous” (defined as presenting a significant risk of causing serious harm), a defendant can be detained beyond the halfway point of their sentence. HOWEVER...
...It is worth reading the remarks of Mr Justice Holroyde, who sentenced Choudary. He indicated a clear view that Choudary was dangerous, and would continue to “spread his message”. But the offence of which Choudary was convicted was not one to which the dangerous laws apply.
Read 5 tweets
Sep 3, 2018
These stories are becoming increasingly popular with the media. Criminal steals big wodge of money, soft judge only makes them pay a fraction of it back.

A brief thread is in order. [THREAD]
When someone financially benefits from a crime, the Crown Court has the power to make what is called a “confiscation order”. It has two parts: (1) The “benefit” - ie what has the person had. (2) The “available amount” - what assets does the person currently have.
The court makes a confiscation order in the lower of those two figures. A person will only be ordered to pay what they can actually afford, as failure to pay can mean the person is imprisoned, and it’s not very fair to imprison people for not paying what they haven’t got. BUT.
Read 7 tweets
Aug 30, 2018
Gather round, folks! It’s time for another round of What Is Andrew Pierce Wrong About This Time?

[SPOILER: Everything]
“No other sanction”. Well that’s a lie right off the bat. The news report is here. And we can see that the court imposed a community order, a restraining order and costs. There would also be “requirements” to the community order, such as unpaid work or a rehabilitation programme.
It’s important to note that there are few facts given. The charges aren’t even specified (“assault” is not an offence), and no information is given about the reasons given by the court for passing that sentence.
Read 7 tweets

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