Supplementary memorandum submitted by
the Criminal Cases Review Commission
RESPONSE TO ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REQUESTED
BY THE JUSTICE COMMITTEE AT THE EVIDENCE SESSION HELD ON 10 MARCH
Question 10: Additional information on the
number of cases awaiting allocation including the number of historic
sex/child abuse cases and the effect of these cases on the backlog
At the time of the Justice Committee appearance
the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) had 78 review cases
awaiting allocation to a case reviewer.
Between 1997 when the CCRC started work, and
the appearance before the Justice Committee in March 2009, the
Commission received a total of 42 cases of the type often referred
to as care home cases or historic child sex abuse cases.
Of these 27 are closed, 14 are under review
and one case is at a stage in the process prior to allocation
to a case review manager. The application at that pre-allocation
stage was received from an applicant at liberty in June 08. We
would expect to allocate a case of this kind in around 16 months
because we give priority to applications from those in custody.
Of the care home cases that have so far been
closed, three have been referred. Of these, two were quashed and
one was partially quashed.
It is not possible to offer an exact assessment
of the impact of care home cases on CCRC waiting times. However,
it is fair to say they represent a significant draw on the Commission's
resources because they tend to be difficult to investigate.
Questions 19 to 24: Additional information
on referrals including sentencing. On the difference between referral
rates between the CCRC and the Scottish CCRC
The SCCRC has a higher average referral rate
than the CCRC. However, a much higher proportion of its referrals
have been sentence only referrals as opposed to conviction referrals.
The difference in the proportion of sentence
referrals is to a significant extent accounted for by the impact
of one SCCRC case, that of Flynn v HM Advocate 2004 SLT
The case related to the Convention Rights (Compliance)
(Scotland) Act 2001 and the way it affected people in prison serving
mandatory life sentences.
The Flynn case generated 27 sentence only applications
for the SCCRC between 2005 and 2007. Fifteen of those applications
resulted in sentence only referrals.
That means that Flynn-related sentence only
referrals made between 2005 and 2007 account for almost one fifth
(18.3%) of the total number of referrals made over the life of
The overall SCCRC rate of referral over its
10 year life is 7.9%. Without the Flynn-related sentence referrals
that figure would be 6.5%.
The average referral rate of the CCRC over its
life since 1997 has been 3.8%. However, comparing conviction referrals
the position is as follows:
Over its lifetime the CCRC has referred 368 conviction
cases of which 236 have so far been quashed (19 have yet to be
Over its life the SCCRC has referred 47 conviction
cases of which 19 have so far been quashed (14 have yet to be
The SCCRC is small relative to the CCRC and handles
a fraction of the cases dealt with by the CCRC in England, Wales
and Northern Ireland. This difference in scale means that even
a single case can significantly affect SCCRC's annual referral
In 2008-09 the CCRC closed 941 cases and made
38 referrals (32 convictions and six sentences). That is a referral
rate of 4%.
In 2008-09 the SCCRC closed 104 cases and made
seven referrals (five conviction and two sentence only). That
is a referral rate of 6.7%.
As at the end of March 2009, the CCRC had made
a total of 424 referrals. Of those 56 (or 13%) were sentence only
At the end of March 2009, the SCCRC had made
a total of 82 referalls of which 36 (or 44%) were sentence only
referrals. (Without Flynn there would have been 67 referrals of
which 21 would have been sentence only referrals. Without Flynn,
the ratio of conviction to sentence only referalls would have
been 66% to 31%).