WHY IT IS TOO EASY TO BE FALSELY ACCUSED
AND CONVICTED OF ABUSE WHEN FACTUALLY INNOCENT
A Briefing Paper by F.A.C.T.
(Falsely Accused Teachers, Carers and other Professionals)
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- Police and compensation solicitor advertisements calling ‘victims’ to come forward
Police trawling methods, and no-win, no-fee solicitors taking class actions against institutions
- 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).
- 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)
- 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,
- 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)
- 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.