Fedster + 1,307 Posted January 29, 2018 Share Posted January 29, 2018 National Police Chiefs Council lead says he is confident the plan will lead to 'real improvements in quick time'. CC Nick Ephgrave Police officers dealing with the disclosure of evidence could be required to obtain a "licence to practise" within a year after a string of rape cases collapsed. Specialist disclosure experts will be posted in every force area as part of efforts to address failings that have rocked confidence in the criminal justice system. A flurry of cases have sparked serious concerns over arrangements surrounding the disclosure to defence teams of crucial evidence. In the lead-up to trials, police and prosecutors are required to hand over relevant material that either undermines the prosecution case or assists the defence case. But the regime came under sharp focus after defendants facing rape allegations had the charges against them dropped when critical evidence emerged at the 11th hour. The Crown Prosecution Service, National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) and College of Policing have published a disclosure "improvement plan". It set out plans to review training on disclosure, develop a cadre of specialist and experienced disclosure experts in every force and provide all multimedia evidence from the CPS to the defence via direct electronic link by July. The document also commits to reviewing whether there "should be a requirement for officers to hold a Licence to Practise in respect of disclosure" by January 2019. Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said: "The CPS and police have a vital role in ensuring there is a fair trial process in place to protect the public. Proper disclosure is a fundamental part of this. "The steps we have already taken, along with the measures we have announced today, are aimed at tackling the deep-rooted and systemic disclosure issues which are of great concern to us all." She said changes in society, such as the "vastly increasing" use of social media and mobile phone messaging "bring challenges that all parts of the criminal justice system, despite the resourcing challenges, must deal with". The improvement plan refers to an "explosion" in volume of digital material created in criminal investigations, with "greater strain" being placed on the capacity for lawyers and individual officers to consider disclosure. Chief Constable Nick Ephgrave, the NPCC lead for criminal justice, said: "Disclosure is an essential element of the criminal justice process, but has too often been seen as an administrative task completed at the end of an investigation, exacerbated by the rapid expansion of digital material involved in almost every case. "We now need to firmly embed disclosure in the investigative mindset from the outset of any investigation. "Reviews of recent cases have shown a range of issues leading to failures but there has been no intention by officers to conceal information." He expressed confidence the plan will lead to "real improvements in quick time". Ms Saunders said steps are being taken to identify any individual cases of concern "as a matter of urgency". Senior prosecutors across England and Wales are currently assessing all live rape and serious sexual assault cases to check they are satisfied that disclosure obligations have been met. Ms Saunders added: "Inevitably, bringing forward these case reviews means it is likely that there may be a number of cases which we will be stopping at around the same time." Chief Constable Mike Cunningham, CEO at the College of Policing, said: “The role of the police in any investigation is to secure and preserve evidence. “We want to ensure officers and staff are supported to make the improvements being set out today and have access to the best available learning for disclosure. To date we have produced detailed disclosure learning standards, guidance and training tools for forces to implement locally, but this is just one part of the solution. “We must be sure the criminal justice system works together to achieve sustained improvements to disclosure practice. This will involve cultural change and strong leadership to influence the mind-sets of officers and staff responsible for meeting disclosure requirements. We will support leaders and champions in forces and across the criminal justice service to achieve this.” View On Police Oracle Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Create an account or sign in to comment
You need to be a member in order to leave a comment
Create an account
Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!Register a new account
Already have an account? Sign in here.Sign In Now