Over the past few weeks the national press have been reporting failures in the disclosure of critical evidence that has led to the collapse of very serious trials. What should also be noted is that this doesn’t just happen in the Crown Court, though we will have heard the announcement this weekend that there is to be a wholescale review of all current rape cases.
However, we in the profession know only too well that the disclosure problems are by no means limited to just a handful of rape cases, but extend across the whole criminal justice system , from the investigation process in the Police station at one end of the scale to the paper heavy cases in the Crown court at the other. As Angela Rafferty QC chair of the Criminal Bar Association highlighted in her statement this week that disclosure problems have led to mothers giving birth in prison whilst awaiting trial - only for no evidence to be offered. The failings in disclosure apply to all criminal cases not just rape allegations. This must not be forgotten.
Accordingly the Criminal Law Solicitors Association together with its sister organisation the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association and also the Criminal Bar Association will launch a week-long survey to collate information regarding issues over disclosure
All members of the profession are invited and encouraged to contribute to this very important survey.
This month the MOJ are facing yet more woes. The Law Society have issued proceedings to the decision to impose further legal aid cuts that will ‘penalise’ defence practitioners working on large cases. This coupled with the collapse of Carillion, their facilities management company and the dire reports on our local prison HMP Nottingham and major problems with the Probation service just goes to show the significant neglect and underfunding in all areas of Criminal Justice.
Without support and input as stated above we are at risk of being left to shuffle the deck chairs on the sinking ship. The next DDLS Magistrates’ Court user meeting is at 3pm on the 12th April 2018 at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court. Here we meet with HMCTS, Legal Aid Agency, Police, CPS, and Probation representatives. This is an opportunity to raise our voices and concerns to all partners and users of the Court. I would ask and invite all of you from not just the Criminal Justice but Family practitioners to attend. Free tea and biscuits are provided.
Our annual dinner is approaching very fast this year. Please don’t to forget to book your places!