This study of decision making within the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) seeks to understand how the CCRC exercises its discretionary powers in deciding whether to refer possible wrongful convictions to the Court of Appeal. It aims to identify what kinds of cases are screened out and which are sent for a full review. We are interested in what factors lead the CCRC - namely Commissioners and Case Review Managers - to decide that the original conviction was unsafe and that it should be re-exaimned by the Court of Appeal.

Hoyle and Sato’s research focuses on six ‘purposive’ sample of cases: contemporary sexual assault cases; historical, institutional abuse cases; cases that turn on expert evidence; passport/asylum cases; cases that have involved investigation by a police force (Section 19, Criminal Appeal Act 1995); and Court of Appeal directed cases (Section 15, Criminal Appeal Act 1995). Analysing in detail approximately 120 cases across these samples, they read case files, study the database that records all investigatory work, and interview caseworkers, commissioners and other CCRC personnel, and in certain cases the applicant’s legal representative or others involved in preparing the case for an application to the CCRC.

Hoyle and Sato are writing a book based on this study, to be published in 2016 by Oxford University Press. They have shared early findings from this study at conferences in Oxford, Delhi, Prague, and at the CCRC Biennial Stakeholders’ Conference in November 2014.

Confidentiality and Anonymity

Carolyn Hoyle and Mai Sato have received security clearance by the Ministry of Justice to access information held by the CCRC and the project has been reviewed and approved by the University of Oxford’s Central University Research Ethics Committee (CUREC). The researchers will be compiling information about specific cases from different sources and, accordingly, that information will initially be collected in a form that identifies the individuals to whom it relates. This allows the researchers to accurately match information from different sources. Information that is capable of identifying an individual will be held in confidence and will only be accessible to those researchers who have a need to access it for the purposes of the project. The researchers will take reasonable steps to ensure that individuals cannot be identified from the information as soon as possible after it is collected. Any information or data reported in conference proceedings or in any resulting publications will not be made available in a form that identifies the individual to whom it relates without that individual’s consent.

For further information about this project, contact Professor Carolyn Hoyle:

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