Six years ago this month, the Supreme Court declared that rules on joint enterprise prosecutions had been wrongly applied for over thirty years.
The implication – that hundreds of people, possibly thousands – had been wrongly convicted and imprisoned, was stark. The hopes that the ruling would be a turning-point were high.
As regular readers of this Bulletin will know, we have been working with our friends at JENGbA (Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association) to understand the impact of the Supreme Court ruling. The bad news is that nothing much appears to have changed. Indeed, according to the data we have analysed, the Supreme Court ruling has had no discernible impact.
We have also been supporting JENGbA's campaign to change the law, to make it easier for those wrongly convicted under joint enterprise rules to appeal their sentence.
Over the next few months we'll be doing a special focus on joint enterprise.
Next Wednesday, on 2 March, JENGbA's campaign to change the law will be one of the items up for discussion in the March edition of Last month in criminal justice. I'm delighted that Charlotte Henry from JENGbA, the driving-force behind the campaign, will be joining us to discuss the campaign.
Later in the month, in our next Lunch with... programme, my colleague Helen Mills will be talking with Gloria Morrison and Jan Cunliffe of JENGbA about their long campaign for justice for those convicted under joint enterprise rules.
You can find out about these programmes, and register to attend, via our events page.
In April, we'll be publishing our research on the impact of the Supreme Court ruling.
We currently run two monthly programmes covering differing aspects of criminal justice:
- Last month in criminal justice: our panel discussion on the first Wednesday of each month, looking at all the key criminal justice developments over the past month.
- Lunch with...: our mid-month conversation with interesting and inspiring campaigners, practitioners and thinkers.
Alongside that, we run occasional and one-off events and webinars. You can find out about all our events and programmes via the events page.
We have a number of reports coming out over the next few months, including on joint enterprise, the Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence, and an overview of the UK criminal justice systems. Find out more here.
Commentary and analysis
The lack of long-term thinking and political bravery required to create sustainable change leaves space for performance activism, including from the voluntary sector. It amounts to very little change on the ground, though perhaps leaves many in the sector feeling good about our efforts.
Whitney Iles, Khatuna Tsintsadze and Charlie Weinberg on the challenge of achieving meaningful change, the latest in their critical care series of articles.
Earlier this month, our Head of Programmes, Helen Mills, gave a speech on women in the criminal justice system. You can read it here.
And the award goes to...
We publish the British Journal of Criminology, one of the world's top criminology journals, in partnership with an independent editorial board and Oxford University Press. Each year, the Journal's editors award the Radzinowicz Prize to the article they judge to have contributed most to knowledge of criminal justice issues and the development of criminology.
This year's award goes to Dr Jack Spicer of UWE Bristol, for his article on the policing of 'county lines' drug-dealing.
Congratulations to Jack. For more information, and to read his article, go here.
Eye on criminal justice
Following a controversial tenure, Cressida Dick's unexpected resignation as Metropolitan Police Chief caused a bit of a row. The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, was accused of forcing her out; something he denies. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police has condemned one of its own official Twitter accounts, after it retweeted "unacceptable" criticism of the Mayor. "I will not support the appointment of a new Commissioner", Mr Khan wrote the day after Cressida Dick announced her resignation, "unless they can clearly demonstrate that they understand the scale of the cultural problems within the Met and the urgency with which they must be addressed".
The public inquiry into the wrongful private prosecutions of over 700 Post Office sub-postmasters got underway this month. Many sub-postmasters, wrongly accused of stealing funds as a result of a catastrophic IT failure, ended up losing their careers and going to prison. The House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee this month called for urgent action to compensate the sub-postmasters wrongly prosecuted.
The government announced this month that it would reject calls to make misogyny a hate crime. While a number of organisations, including the Fawcett Society, supported moves to make misogyny a hate crime, others, such as Woman's Place UK. To get up to speed with the arguments, here's a piece on the Fawcett Society website arguing in favour of making it a hate crime, and here's a piece by the feminist author and campaigner, Joan Smith, opposing the move. You can also watch this speech by Julie Bindel, from February 2020.
In the latest "if you build it they will come" development, the Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab announced plans for an additional 4,000 prison places. “Endlessly making the same announcement about building new prison spaces is not going to solve the chronic failure of our prison system” Prison Reform Trust Director Peter Dawson commented.
We'll be discussing these, and other criminal justice developments, on next week's Last month in criminal justice.
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