This report considers the disclosure of unused material in criminal cases. It confirms that the issue with failures in disclosure not only lead to miscarriages of justice (including wrongful imprisonment), but also lead to waste of both time and resources.
The report references the submission made by the MA that problems relating to disclosure occur across the broad range of offences that appear before magistrates, and that problems in disclosure are a symptom of reductions in resources available to police and prosecutors.
The Justice Committee does not propose any fundamental changes to the legislation, or the principles of disclosure, as it is of the view that failings have arisen in the application of those principles by police officers and prosecutors on the ground. The report states that there needs to be:
- a shift in culture towards viewing disclosure as a core justice duty, and not an administrative add on;
- the right skills and technology to review large volumes of material that are now routinely collected by the police; and
- clear guidelines on handling sensitive material.
The report also states that the government must consider whether funding across the system is sufficient to ensure a good disclosure regime.