The Realities of the crown prosecution services’ current disclosure crisis

I hope you found the BBC programme about disclosure helpful. The extraordinary reality of every police and Magistrates’ Court case at the moment is that disclosure issues arise all the time.

What that means in practice is that the police and the Crown Prosecution Service do not send you the documents, the evidence, that they are supposed to and as a result it is much more difficult for you, and us, to assess the strength of your case.

Let me give you a very simple example that crops up all the time: often there will be CCTV evidence of the incident and often the police do not obtain that evidence and it is left to us to check with the pub, restaurant or street CCTV system to see if there is any such footage.

Even if the police do get it, there are often extraordinary difficulties in getting the police to disclose that to you – that is get them to send you a copy.

Exactly the same point arises on really all cases. It is particularly noticeable on the computer pornography cases where the police and the Crown Prosecution Service are incredibly slow in giving us access to the evidence that allows us to get an expert report to see what of the police say is true.

The point of this note is to explain that unless you are utterly relentless in pressing the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to get full details of their case against you, there is really no possibility of you having a fair consideration of the evidence, or a fair trial.

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