The work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission - Justice Committee Contents

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Criminal Cases Review Commission


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 863.

  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 SCCRC.

  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 decided).

    Over its life the SCCRC has referred 47 conviction cases of which 19 have so far been quashed (14 have yet to be decided).

    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 rate.

    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 referrals.

    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%).

June 2009

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2009
Prepared 16 June 2009