Documents obtained by Centre reveal extent of disclosure crisis
A front page story in the Times today reported on a cache of documents obtained by the Centre for Criminal Appeals revealing that officers at one police force appears to have been trained to withhold vital evidence from defendants.
The Centre obtained the documents, which include notes from focus groups with police, prosecutors and judges as well as survey responses from prosecutors, from HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) under the Freedom of Information Act.
The name of the police force which the documents suggests trained officers to hide evidence was redacted by HMCPSI, but the Centre is currently challenging this.
See the documents
Key extracts from the documents can be viewed below, but the full documents can be read here:
- Police focus group notes
- Prosecutor focus group notes
- Judiciary focus group notes
- Prosecutor survey responses
Centre calls for an independent disclosure agency
Suzanne Gower, solicitor and Managing Director at the Centre, said:
“These documents show why responsibility for providing full and fair disclosure must be taken out of the hands of police and prosecutors.
“The truth is they see themselves first and foremost as adversaries to the defence and, in some cases, deliberately withhold exculpatory evidence.
“It is unrealistic to expect this mindset to change, which is why we are calling for a new independent disclosure agency consisting of legally-trained staff to take charge of the disclosure process.
“Not only would this prevent wrongful convictions and re-establish the right to a fair trial, it would put an end to the vast waste of resources caused by our current dysfunctional disclosure regime.”