We see the evidence of this failure all around us. In the recent high profile collapse of rape and serious sexual offence prosecutions, such as that of Liam Allan, Oliver Mears, Isaac Hay and Samson Mikele. So bad had matters become the CPS commissioned a special review of ongoing prosecutions earlier this year. A review which led to 47 cases being dropped by them on non-disclosure grounds. The CPS say they believe these 47 cases would all have been stopped before trial in any event. Even if true, this, “Well we would almost certainly have got round to dropping the cases in the end” defence is scant comfort to those who will have had to suffer months if not years of unnecessary uncertainty and opprobrium. This Commission routinely refers convictions on non-disclosure grounds. Recent examples include the cases of Embleton, Dunn and Z, all within the last year or two.
So I do not myself think that the CPS contention that the existing checks and balances in the system guarantee cases which should be stopped will always be stopped before trial is supported by current evidence.
What underlies this, in my view, is a widespread and worrying lack of grip by too many investigators in the basics of criminal investigation. A lack of grip which is resulting in those who should be brought to justice not being properly investigated, in trials collapsing at the courtroom door or during trial itself; and still worse convictions which prove unsafe and which were entirely avoidable.