We conclude that disclosure failures have been widely acknowledged for many years but have gone unresolved, in part, because of insufficient focus and leadership by Ministers and senior officials. This was not aided by data collected by the Crown Prosecution Service which might have underestimated the number of cases which were stopped with disclosure errors by around 90%.
We do not propose any fundamental changes to the legislation, or the principles of disclosure, but failings have arisen in the application of those principles by police officers and prosecutors on the ground. There needs to be: (1) a shift in culture towards viewing disclosure as a core justice duty, and not an administrative add on; (2) the right skills and technology to review large volumes of material that are now routinely collected by the police; and (3) clear guidelines on handling sensitive material.
Finally, the Government must consider whether funding across the system is sufficient to ensure a good disclosure regime. We note that delayed and collapsed trails that result from disclosure errors only serve to put further strain on already tight resources.