I am conscious that the profession will be asking what steps the Law Society Criminal Law Committee has taken in relation to the current unused material debacle. We have been involved as follows:
1. Both Richard Atkinson and I are members of the National Disclosure Improvement Forum, at which improvements to the disclosure processes are discussed on a monthly basis; and
2. We have had meetings with the former attorney general and with Anthony Hill, who has been conducting a review of disclosure on behalf of the attorney general. Anthony has also attended the Criminal Law Committee to keep us appraised of developments.
I have attended two meetings of the College of Policing to address disclosure champions from various police forces. This has involved me speaking to about 600 police officers, whereby I achieved my lifetime ambition of auditioning as Daniel in the lion’s den!
We have not been idle on this issue but do not claim to have all the answers. We have been anxious to take a constructive part in the debate and that is what we have been doing. If any members of the profession, be they from the prosecution or defence, feel they have proposals that they would like us to carry forward we would be very happy to receive them.
You will see a Gazette article from me online (tinyurl.com/ybtyh72g) regarding this issue. Clearly, proposals that may require legislative time will have to take a back seat while the legislative bottleneck created by Brexit is cleared, but we will be happy to receive improvement proposals addressing both the short- and long-term issues to: email@example.com, or Richard Atkinson (firstname.lastname@example.org), or our policy adviser, Janet Arkinstall (email@example.com).
You will see from the online article that our long-term aim is to see whether we could have a ‘keys to the warehouse’ approach in the magistrates’ court and a Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 approach in the Crown court.
lan Kelcey, senior partner and head of crime, Kelcey & Hall; co-chair, Law Society Criminal Law Committee