Record number of people exonerated of crimes in US in 2013

The Guardian home newspaper

Peterborough Prison

Eighty-seven people cleared of conviction, including in many cases which investigation revealed no crime ever committed.

The number of people exonerated after they were falsely convicted of crimes in the US has reached an historic high, with 87 walking free last year.

new report from the National Registry of Exonerations finds that almost a third of the people in 2013’s unprecedented crop of exonerations were convicted in cases in which, in fact, no crime was committed – a record-breaking number in itself. Some 22 men and five women were given sentences ranging from probation to life, yet when their convictions were investigated, they were not only found to be innocent, but it was discovered that no offence had occurred in the first place.

read the full article here ….

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Anonymity for defendants accused of sexual abuse or rape

Reintroduce anonymity for defendants in sex abuse or rape casesTheOpinionSite.org

 

After yet another high-profile case is lost by the CPS, this time in the trial of William Roache, it is time to reintroduce anonymity for defendants accused of sexual abuse or rape.

At the very mention of the subject, women’s groups, child protection “experts”, the (some would say rather unreliable) NSPCC and other so-called ‘charities’ all inevitably and immediately scream, “No! No! No!”, well aware that if such anonymity were in fact granted to defendants, many of these organisations and individuals would soon become redundant.

TheOpinionSite.org has for some years now been making the point that for the term ‘justice’ to mean anything of value, both sides in the adversarial arena must have‘equality of arms’; indeed, such a principle is at the very heart of the British Criminal Justice System and has been since Magna Carta in 1215 and the Bill of Rights in 1689.

To be clear, this fundamental principal does not mean ‘limited equality of arms’.

For example, if the Crown Prosecution Service engage a QC to present their case, the defence will also be entitled to a QC, even at public expense if necessary.

If expert witnesses are called by one side, the other may also do so.

So, if the accuser in the case – for there is no ‘victim’ until something has been proven – is entitled to anonymity, how can the defendant possibly be denied the same protection?

After all, both sides must be equal.

 

Read more…

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False allegations: how to deal with them if you’re a teacher

This is an article from the Times Educational Supplement from 2010 but no less relevant today …

By: John Berry   http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=2571586

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Being caught in the tangled web of a false allegation is a nightmare many struggle to recover from. John Berry reports.

Of all the bogeymen that haunt teachers’ nightmares, none is more dreadful than that of the false, malicious allegation. The official line from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) is that “cases of malicious allegations or false allegations that are wholly invented are very rare”.

Most stem from an incident that is open to interpretation by a pupil: someone may have been physically restrained by a teacher, but was that necessary to prevent harm to the pupil or others? In most cases, complaints of this sort are dealt with by the school’s routine practices and policies.

But it doesn’t matter how rare such cases are. If you’re the victim of such an allegation, the world comes crashing down around your ears. For many, like Darren, it is the sheer sense of disbelief that such a thing could happen to you that has the most impact.

“I’d been teaching in the same (inner-city secondary) school for ages,” he says. “I was a well established, no-nonsense member of staff and I like to think I was respected by most pupils and by my colleagues.

“When I first heard this allegation had been made, I felt inclined to laugh it off as a kid having a moan because he felt hard done by. I really didn’t think anyone would take it seriously.”

The nature of the complaint was that Darren had intimidated a particular pupil, that he systematically and regularly singled the boy out for disciplinary actions and that he had physically threatened him. Crucially, the boy was backed in his claim by his parents.

Much the same happened to Jake, again in a secondary school. “This particular child alleged that I had manhandled her when she had refused to move away from another crowd of pupils who were causing a nuisance during morning break.

Unfortunately for Jake, not only did the pupil make the allegation against him, but another pupil corroborated her story and both girls’ parents were prepared to back their version of events.

The harsh reality
This is where one of the really harsh realities of false allegations begins to bite. “What really got me,” says Jake, “was the way that the school was obliged to take it all completely seriously. I can see why they did so – and the fact that they followed correct procedures worked to my benefit in the end. It was just that I was furiously angry that this load of rubbish, cooked up by two mischievous kids, was being given complete credence.”

You can understand Jake’s frustration, but the law is clear that such allegations have to be taken seriously and acted upon.

What is worse for most teachers involved in such cases is the fact that when they are cleared of any misconduct there is usually little redress open to them.

At the end of the correct procedures and investigations, Jake and Darren were cleared of any wrongdoing, albeit after a suspension in Darren’s case. However, in common with many teachers on the receiving end of such allegations, he decided to resign. Darren says: “Everyone was really supportive throughout and when the whole thing was over, practically everyone admitted they knew it was a load of rubbish. All the same, I’d had it with the school. I know they had to investigate it, but the whole idea that this utter nonsense was given house room just about did for me.”

There are two points to be made here. Firstly, Darren’s decision to resign is a very common reaction when teachers are victimised in this way. “It’s a bit of an old cliché, but despite the support of the school, I still felt as though some mud was sticking. And no matter how hard people had tried to keep everything proper and confidential, kids in school knew what was going on,” he says.

Secondly, at the end of it all, even when allegations had been proven to be mischievous, there is little beyond the realms of school discipline that can be used to reprimand the pupils involved. On rare occasions, and depending on the seriousness of the circumstances, there is the possibility of criminal there there are proceedings, such as wasting police time or perverting the course of justice. But such instances are extremely rare. It is a fact of life that the allegation has to be taken seriously and must be investigated.

How to protect yourself

  • Make sure that your union subscriptions are up-to-date. No trade union will represent you if you attempt to join after such an incident has occurred – and such allegations can take you into very tricky waters.
  • If you’re informed of an allegation being made against you, there’s a golden rule: as tricky as it may be, say nothing, no matter how difficult it is.
  • Contact your union representative – this will not be your school rep, but someone from a regional office – and take advice from them.
  • Do not get involved in any impromptu interviews or start giving written statements, no matter the pressure from heads, governors or whoever else may want to speak to you. There are clear, agreed procedures governing how to act in such circumstances, which your union rep will guide you through.
  • Try, as far as possible, never to put yourself in a situation where a pupil could make such an allegation. The one thing you can do is to ensure that you avoid being in any place alone with a child, out of sight of others.
  • No procedure will protect wrongdoers, but latest statistics from the DCSF show that of all allegations – some of which will have been bona fide – only 11 (that’s about 0.002 per cent of the teaching population) resulted in court convictions.
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UK – Daily Mail

MailOnline - news, sport, celebrity, science and health stories

British charity worker falsely accused of being a paedophile by police in Thailand is released after spending 14 months in a ‘hell’ prison

  • Ian Tracy was wrongly jailed for four years for being a paedophile
  • Served 14 months in Nong Plalai Prison, Pattaya
  • Was released just before New Year following order from Supreme Court
  • ‘It has ruined my life. I have been treated like scum’, Mr Tracy said today

By ANDREW DRUMMOND

A British charity worker who was falsely accused of being a paedophile and jailed in Thailand for four years has been released on order from the Thai Supreme Court.

Ian Charles Tracy, 47, was released from Nong Plalai Prison, Pattaya, just before the New Year after spending a squalid 14 months in the prison being treated as a child sexual abuser.

It is thought he was was mistaken for another British man – who has been arrested for child sex abuse and attempted murder of a juvenile.

Speaking during an interview in Pattaya, innocent Mr Tracy from Godalming, Surrey, said: ‘My whole life has been ruined.

‘I have been accused of the vilest of crimes when all I have done is to try to help people.

‘I now have to take steps to recover my name in a case which is appalling in the nature of its corruption.

‘I have been treated worse than scum. I would never consider abusing a child. In fact the charities I worked for had programme for children but I did not want to get involved because I did not have the training.

‘The police knew they had the wrong man. But insisted they go ahead with the prosecution. I told them they would have to make it all up – and they did.’

According to Thai Police, Ian Tracy was originally arrested as part of an Operation Naga – an act of international co-operation between Britain’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Unit (CEOP) which came under the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the Royal Thai Police.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2532621/British-charity-worker-falsely-accused-paedophile-police-Thailand-released-spending-14-months-hell-prison.html#ixzz2pK2rmCN4
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The effect of changes in the UK which erodes the core of good justice – ‘innocent until proven guilty’

WHY IT IS TOO EASY TO BE FALSELY ACCUSED

AND CONVICTED OF ABUSE WHEN FACTUALLY INNOCENT

 

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A Briefing Paper by F.A.C.T.

(Falsely Accused Teachers, Carers and other Professionals)  

www.factuk.org

Earlier developments

  • Erosion of ‘similar fact evidence’

Two House of Lords judgments in 1991 and 1995 removed the safeguards put in place by DPP v Boardman(1975) to guard against similar facts based on collusion or contamination.  

http://www.richardwebster.net/similarfactevidence.html

 

  • Dispensing of the need for corroboration 

Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 dispenses with the requirement for corroboration in order to convict.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1994/33/section/33

Section 32 abrogated the requirement for the judge to give the jury a warning about convicting the accused on the uncorroborated evidence in cases where the offence charged is sexual, and the evidence is given by the alleged victim.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1994/33/section/32

  • Police and compensation solicitor advertisements calling ‘victims’ to come forward

Police trawling methods, and no-win, no-fee solicitors taking class actions against institutions

http://www.richardwebster.net/trawlingnetstheinnocent.html

http://www.richardwebster.net/thecompensationfactor.html

http://ow.ly/rFG1S

 

Recent developments

 

  • Victims’ Code

 The Victims Code was introduced in 2005, but in the latest edition (October 2013) a victim-centred response to crime is very evident. People reporting that they are victims of a sexual  offence or human trafficking will automatically be considered to be vulnerable, which means they are entitled to special measures (such as screening in court, and support through the Victim Contact Scheme).

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/254459/code-of-practice-victims-of-crime.pdf

  • New CPS guidelines for Prosecuting Cases of Child Sexual Abuse, October 2013

 The CPS new guidelines are intended to change the way victims of child sexual abuse are perceived and to support the CPS objectives of achieving more prosecutions and convictions for child abuse and rape. Prosecutors are directed to avoid ‘myths such as, for example, were an allegation really true it would have been reported at the time’ and to assume that ‘the jury will faithfully apply directions from the judge, such as the fact that they can still convict even where it is one person’s word against another’s without any supporting evidence.’ The Guidelines also specify that ‘prosecutors should guard against looking for ‘corroboration’ of the victim’s account or using the lack of ‘corroboration’ as a reason not to proceed with a case.’ (para.55)

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/a_to_c/child_sexual_abuse/

  • Victims’ Right to Review 

 In July 2012 it was announced that ‘victims’ will be able to challenge decisions by the CPS Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) not to bring charges against alleged perpetrators,

http://www.cps.gov.uk/victims_witnesses/victims_right_to_review/

  • Attorney General’s power to refer cases for sentencing review

More referrals are being made to the AG, and more use being made by the AG to refer cases to the Court of Appeal for tougher sentences if the sentences are considered unduly lenient (ULS)

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/attorney-generals-office/about

  • Two new orders being introduced to restrict activities of suspects

 These are amendments to the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, building on amendments introduced by Nicola Blackwood MP, following her Childhood Lost petition using social media.

1. Sexual Harm Prevention Orders can be applied to anyone convicted or cautioned for a sexual or violent offence, including where offences are committed overseas. They will replace Sexual Offences Prevention Orders and Foreign Travel Orders; and can be made by a court on conviction, or if the police or National Crime Agency (NCA) apply to a magistrates’ court. The order lasts a minimum of five years and has no maximum duration.

2. Sexual Risk Orders can be applied to any individual who poses a risk of sexual harm in the UK or abroad, even if they have never been convicted. They will replace the Risk of Sexual Harm Order. The Sexual Risk Order can be made if the police or NCA apply to a magistrates’ court regarding a person who poses a risk of sexual harm. It lasts a minimum of two years and has no maximum duration.

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/anti-social-behaviour-crime-and-police-bill

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‘Myths and Facts for Schools’ about touch, abuse, and panic: is the tide turning at last?

Nicholas:

About time this was brought out into the open. So much damage is being done to our society and a lot of the so called ‘child protection’ organisations are responsible.

Originally posted on ESRC Moral Panic Seminar Series, 2012 - 2014:

Having devoted much of the last decade or so to researching and writing about the way that adult anxieties about child abuse (and misjudged ways of seeking to prevent it), have done little to protect children, while having a number of seriously damaging consequences, it was good to have a significant straw in the wind drawn to my attention by a reporter from a national newspaper.

In a variety of contexts, including schools and nurseries, sports coaching and physical education (PE) and music education, there is no doubt that risk-averse policy and practice has had a damaging effect on the experiences of children and young people, and on their relationships with adults. These arrangements, actively promoted by some organisations with an interest in fostering disproportionate anxiety and a rigid approach to ‘safeguarding’, speak more of moral panic and bureaucratic control than of careful consideration informed by professional and practical wisdom…

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The role of donors in enhancing quality and accountability in humanitarian aid

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by Corinna Kreidler , ECHO

The fact that the international humanitarian system is not delivering the quality of aid it is supposed to pushes all of us to look at what has to change. This article focuses on what donors can do to improve the quality of humanitarian aid. Donors have various roles within the accountability chain. First, there is accountability to donors: recipient agencies are accountable to donors for how the funding received is spent. This gives donors the leverage to insist that quality aid is delivered with the funds provided. Second, there is accountability through donors: the collective pressure donors can apply to other stakeholders, such as national governments and UN agencies. Finally there is accountability by donors: initiatives that look at quality and accountability within donor organisations themselves.

Donors are a key link in the accountability chain, and stakeholders expect donor representatives to ensure that action is taken when the humanitarian system does not perform well. However, most donor agencies are part of their government’s foreign ministries, so they can only put pressure on recipient governments if this is in line with their own government’s foreign policy priorities. Hence, it is important to take a closer look at what donors can and cannot influence – and what tools they have at their disposal to enhance the accountability and quality of humanitarian aid. This article uses the example of DG ECHO, the European Commission’s Department for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, currently the largest humanitarian donor in the world, accounting for some 40% of total humanitarian spending in 2010.

ECHO/Malini Morzaria

Read more…

 

 

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