Justice Committee to launch an inquiry into the disclosure of evidence and the Crown Prosecution Service.
The Committee inquiry on disclosure of evidence in criminal cases is now open. You can read the terms of reference and submit evidence by going to the inquiry page.
This follows several cases including that of Liam Allan in which there have been failures in the timely disclosure of used and unused evidence in criminal trials for serious sexual offences.
There has been a substantial rise reported in the number of prosecutions in England and Wales that collapsed because of a failure by police or prosecutors to disclose evidence.
The CPS itself admitted yesterday that "there is widespread acknowledgement that disclosure issues are systemic and deep-rooted. This is a problem that all parts of the criminal justice system must address" and announced plans to publish, jointly with police chiefs, an action plan, setting out what has and will be done to improve the disclosure process.
Concerns that disclosure issues result in 'inappropriate charges'
Chair of the Justice Committee, Bob Neill MP, said:
"There have been significant concerns that disclosure issues, not just in the Allan case but in many others, have resulted in inappropriate charges, unnecessary delays in court proceedings and potential miscarriages of justice.
This raises serious and profound questions about the handling of cases by the Police and CPS.
We intend to investigate disclosure procedures fully to ensure they are fit for purpose and that the welcome steps proposed to address existing issues are sufficient to resolve them.
Our findings will feed into the Attorney General's review."
The Committee will publish terms of reference and a call for written evidence for the inquiry in due course.
Please note the Committee is unable to look at individual cases.