Women jurors are more likely to change their minds as a result of jury deliberations than men, a Ministry of Justice report has revealed.
The research showed that while female jurors were significantly more likely to convict at the start of deliberations, when discussions were completed they were slightly less likely to convict than men.
In the MoJ study, 41% of women jurors voted guilty at the start of deliberations, compared to 35% of men. However, by the end of jury discussions, 33% of women said they would convict, compared to 34% of men.
While male jurors ‘rarely’ changed their minds, women did so more often, with 67% of all jurors who changed their minds being women.
The MoJ report, Are juries fair?, also found that jury trials were ‘one stage in the criminal justice process where ethnic minorities appear not to be treated disproportionately’. It found jurors do not racially stereotype offenders, and are not influenced by ethnicity in reaching their verdicts.
However, the research found that many jurors do not fully understand their responsibilities. Nearly half of those interviewed said they ‘would not know or were uncertain’ what to do if ‘something improper occurred’ during the trial, despite having been given information about this at the outset of the trial.
The research also suggested that more jurors had searched the internet for information on the case before them than would admit to doing so when being interviewed.
The report was based on research into more than 68,000 Crown court verdicts during 2006/2008, case simulations involving 797 jurors and post-verdict surveys with 668 jurors in 62 cases.
Jo Cooper, chairman of the Solicitors Association of Higher Court Advocates, said the research endorsed the effectiveness of juries.