This study of decision making within the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) sought to understand how the CCRC exercises its discretionary powers in deciding whether to refer possible wrongful convictions to the Court of Appeal. It aimed to identify what kinds of cases are screened out and which are sent for a full review, with particular interest 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 focused 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 146 cases across these samples, they read case files, studied the database that records all investigatory work, and interviewed 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.

Their book, based on this study, will be published in January 2019 by Oxford University Press: Reasons to Doubt: Wrongful Convictions and the Criminal Cases Review Commission They have also published an article in the Criminal Law Review: M Sato, C Hoyle & N-E Speechley, ‘Wrongful Convictions of Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Responses by the Criminal Cases Review Commission’, The Criminal Law Review, 2, 106, 2017

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

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