Police and CPS trial failings mean criminals could be walking free
CRIMINALS could be walking free from courts because the police and CPS are failing to prepare cases properly, an inspection has found. The audit of the police and CPS found that both are failing to hand over crucial documents to defence lawyers in time, leading to cases being delayed or even collapsing.
Kevin Mcginty, HM chief inspector of the CPS, said the failings were “unfair, unprofessional and unlawful”. Police and the CPS are obliged to hand over documents that might undermine the prosecution or aid the defence case to the defence lawyers. Delays in doing so can lead to trials being postponed, disrupted or even abandoned.
Mr Mcginty added that the failures “sometimes do result in miscarriages of justice”. The failings mean some cases where defendants are accused of serious offences, such as murder and rape, could be collapsing.
In 2014, a stalking case collapsed because of a failure to pass on mobile phone evidence in time, leaving the defence unable to analyse it, and the trial of two alleged rapists was stopped after the judge found that prosecution failures had led to an abuse of process. Inspectors examined 90 random cases and found that two had been discontinued due to disclosure issues. The prosecution met all requirements in less than half of cases, and failed to meet them at all in 18 per cent.
Gregor Mcgill, director of legal services at the CPS, said: “The CPS understands the importance of complying with its statutory obligations relating to the disclosure of unused material and is committed to doing so. We will urgently work with our partners in policing, and other agencies, to address the findings in this report.”