Statement following the publication of the Justice Select Committee report on Disclosure

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The Crown Prosecution Service and the National Police Chiefs Council have today (20 July) issued a joint response into the Justice Select Committee Report over Disclosure of evidence in criminal cases.

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said: “Getting disclosure right is a fundamental part of a fair criminal justice system. I have been very clear that addressing the long standing problems in managing disclosure across the criminal justice system is my top priority.

“There is an unprecedented focus on finding solutions, and extensive action has been underway over the past year to bring about the necessary change not just in how cases are handled, but in the wider culture within the CPS and policing.

“The National Disclosure Improvement Plan, published jointly with the police in January, is already having a positive effect. This is not a quick fix. We will evaluate the measures taken, and agree further commitments to ensure there is continuous improvement.

“We will consider carefully the findings and recommendations of the Justice Select Committee.”

National Police Chiefs Council Lead for Criminal Justice, Chief Constable Nick Ephgrave said: "Today's report from the House of Commons Justice Committee recognises the challenges to the justice system and the work that is already being undertaken through the National Disclosure Improvement Plan.

"There is now an unprecedented commitment and focus on finding long-term solutions to the issues that exist throughout the entire justice system. Police have already established disclosure champions at chief officer level in every force to improve and maintain disclosure standards, as well as implemented local disclosure improvement plans between the CPS and individual police forces. In addition, around a thousand practitioner champions have attended seminars across England and Wales to drive improvements in their local force areas.

“We have found the Director of Public Prosecutions to be fully aware of the extent and seriousness of the disclosure failures and fully committed to working with us to drive the changes that are needed across the whole system.”

“One of the great strengths of the National Disclosure Improvement Plan is that it is a truly joint endeavour.”

Background:

National Disclosure Improvement Plan

  • The National Disclosure Improvement Plan (NDIP), published on 26 January 2018, sets out what we have already done to improve the disclosure process and the further steps we will take. You can read the Plan on this website
  • Under the NDIP the CPS and police have implemented a range of joint measures to address these issues including further training of police officers and prosecutors on disclosure, publication of a National Standard on disclosure and a protocol on handling third party material, investigation of what technological tools might assist with the examination of the material and stronger national and local leadership and oversight of the operation of the disclosure process.
  • We have introduced the use of Disclosure Management Documents (DMDs) in all of our rape and serious sexual offences and complex cases in the Crown Court. These DMDs tell both the defence and the court what we have done in the case as well as, importantly, what we will not be doing. They help facilitate a prompt, early discussion with the defence and the early feedback we have had from the judiciary is that they are very useful tools to help them manage the case robustly from the outset.
  • All police forces and CPS Areas have now agreed specific local improvement plans, and appointed disclosure champions to act as a source of expertise and provide guidance.
  • For more information see the National Disclosure Improvement Plan, published on this site
  • All prosecutors will undertake a mandatory training course by September.  This is being led by the Chief Crown Prosecutors in each area.

Next steps

  • As the actions under the NDIP are nearing completion, we are now moving into the next stage of our disclosure improvement. The priority is to ensure momentum of the delivery of the measures already introduced is sustained and that they bring about lasting improvements. In September we will publish “NDIP 2”, outlining continued themes and commitments of the CPS, National Police Chiefs Council and the College of Policing.
  • The CPS has already acknowledged that there is a need to change the way data is captured and is taking immediate action to improve how compliance with disclosure obligations is tracked and recorded.

Further reading