Twenty-five steps towards a less error-prone criminal justice system
It’s been 25 years since the miscarriages of justice watchdog, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (the CCRC) was established. It was created to act as a safety net for wrongful convictions in the wake of the high-profile miscarriages of justice, the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four.
The CCRC’s role is critical in uncovering miscarriages of justice. The previous system, where direct appeals had to be made to the Home Secretary, was woefully inadequate – referring only four to five cases out of 700 to the Court of Appeal Criminal Division (Court of Appeal) per year.
By contrast, in their 25-year lifespan, the CCRC has referred almost 800 cases to the Court of Appeal, and of these 535 appeals have been allowed. Their work has helped free hundreds of people who would otherwise have languished in prison for crimes they did not commit. This is an important achievement. But has