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News Round-Up Week Ending 15.4.16

(Posted on 15/04/16)

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News Round-Up Week Ending 15.4.16

Hallam & Nealon lose latest appeal for compensation.

The Court of Appeal has dismissed compensation cases for Sam Hallam and Victor Nealon. 

Hallam served more than seven years for murder, whilst Nealon served 17 years for attempted rape. Both men had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal three years ago.

Despite this, they have been denied financial compensation for wrongful incarceration by the Ministry of Justice as such an award depends on exoneration following discovery of “new or newly discovered facts”. 

The High Court rejected their challenge last year and now the Court of Appeal has done the same.

#towerlives

A week-long BBC festival of storytelling and music, on air and on the ground, is under way in and around the council estate tower blocks of Butetown in Cardiff. Its aim is to give a platform to voices from a community often talked about but rarely heard.

In the second of its stories from the tower blocks, the BBC news website talks to Tony Paris who was living in one of them in 1988 when he was arrested for the brutal murder of Lynette White.

His subsequent conviction went on to become one of the UK's most infamous miscarriages of justice.

#towerlives is accessible on Twitter.

Police computers obsolete, CPS discs misplaced

A joint report by HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has found that some police forces are using 20-year-old computer systems, whilst the CPS is prone to slipped discs.

“We were concerned to learn that a widespread issue existed concerning the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) misplacing discs containing sensitive evidence and information, such as CCTV, 999 recordings, suspect interviews and, more alarmingly, Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) interviews,” the report states. “Many officers informed us that it was common to receive several requests from the CPS to supply further copies of discs because the original copy submitted could not be found.”

A system used for police to share files with prosecutors is only able to handle individual documents or attachments of less than 1MB, which the report said was “a significant barrier”.

In one case the CPS was fined £200,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office in November 2015 after laptops containing videos of police interviews with victims and witnesses were stolen from a private contractor's studio.

Millions of pounds have been spent trying to improve the use of electronic systems in police forces and the courts, including the £98 million Criminal Justice System Efficiency Programme, and the Criminal Justice Common Platform IT programme which cost £30.5 million to August 2015. UK police forces were expected to spend £492 million on IT in 2015/16.

The report said that some forces were using systems that had been in place for up to two decades, and that victim and witness statements were generally handwritten by officers and then scanned into a computer, which "often made the documents difficult to read".

A CPS spokeswoman said: “The CPS is already working, with its partners, to create a unified digital case management system, which when completed will make the use of discs obsolete.

“In the meantime, new standards have been developed for the handling of electronic hard media. CPS areas are working closely with their local police forces to jointly review their handling and transportation of such material.”