Po­lice and CPS trial fail­ings mean crim­i­nals could be walk­ing free

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Olivia Rudgard so­cial af­fairs cor­re­spon­dent

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.”

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