There are many limitations when it comes to examining cases due to the limited number of resources they have to investigate a case. Adding to that there is a shortage of caseworkers they have working each case. When you have all these problems its only going to lead to a backlog of cases that have not been worked or even looked at. The Home Office got a request from the CCRC in January 1998 for an increase in the number of caseworkers.
This was rejected and the home office stated that they had enough caseworkers to do the job and they needed to focus on the main issues of cases in a less time consuming manner and putting these main issues under the light. This can be seen in this article taken from the annual report for the CCRC,'superficially attractive at it may be to skimp on thoroughness, the cost of mistakes leading to resubmission of cases, judicial review and diminished public confidence in the professional competence of the Commission, are likely to be overwhelming greater…
Not referring cases that should be referred, for lack of thoroughness in the review, perpetuates miscarriage of justice. '6 The Commission did not let the home office get of so quickly and so then the home agreed. At the moment there are 50 caseworkers. The CCRC states in it annual report, 'to make strenuous efforts to improve our case working efficiency and finds way of working more quickly and cheaply, but we cannot compromise on the quality of the work we do'. 7
Miscarriage of justice cases were always in the lime light in the 1980 and in the news, 38 cases that were referred back to the courts by the home office, 37 out of them had their conviction overthrown. During the time of the 1980's and early 1990's showed the effects of the courts and policing mal practice. Which convicted people with insufficient evidence. This would mean to consider 'appalling vista' of the police malpractice and prosecution. 'Would mean the police had lied… this is such an appalling vista that every sensible person in the land would say: It cannot be right that these actions should go any further'.
Judith Ward8 was convicted of a series of IRA bombing at an early age of 25 and eagerly made a voluntary acknowledgment to have taken part in the bombing due to her mental state. After 18 years her conviction was overthrown. The Court of Appeal set clear about the concise rules in relation to the prosecutions duty to disclose. The case of Edwards9 is another example, where the police had allegations that they fabricated the evidence leading to the closure of the West Midlands Serious Crimes Squad.
In this example the Court of Appeal decided that the prosecution had a responsibility to present police officers disciplinary record to the defence. As the due process principles had been recognized through the cases mentioned above, it showed that the judiciary was not blind to the fact that systematic malpractice does exist by the police and other prosecution bodies. The CCRC have been criticised because of the way they refer cases. An example for this is the case of Knighton where he was convicted when he had been dead for 75 years.
This is wasting time and cases and it can be seen, as they are not doing their job appropriately. All the courts had to state when this was referred was that they were 'troubled that this conviction was referred at all, nothing that there are here no issues of exceptional notoriety, and therefore public interest…. ' As they stated 'the continuing work of the CCRC represents a significant ongoing threat to the Court of Appeals ability to manage its role within the criminal justice system'. As it has been noted previously the CCRC takes extra precaution when there is a need to refer certain cases.
By taking this into account the Commission has on many occasions tested the courts boundaries when it comes to the reopening of cases, which have been referred to the court. Therefore many cases have been referred back to the courts where new law has come to surface compared to the time of the first trial, the case is ten seen from different angles along side the new law to see if it can be seen in different light or if it changes the conviction. It is possible for judges to manipulate legal resources in order to mirror their own opinion and reach a decision that they might think.
This can be hard as there decision is very important as they are stuck in the middle of crime control and statuary legislation, some judges tend to support the crime control values compared to others. In these situations decisions are made on the material and new evidence the judges are entitled to which may sway their final decision. The chairman Zellick of CCRC notes: 'the court works under great pressure; it must call on a large number of judges, many of them are specialist in criminal law; and the standards of advocacy may not always give the court the assistance it needs…
the legal situation is far from clear and it is not easy for the Commission to apply the courts case law. It may be conflicting, unclear, or underdeveloped. In those situations, we must seek to understand the state of the law and then apply the statutory "real possibility" test as best we can. In making a reference in those circumstances, we will be giving the court an opportunity to develop or clarify the law'. 10 There is definitely the need for the CCRC otherwise cases of miscarriage of justice would not come to the surface and will reduce in the future the amount of miscarriages from happening.
This is thanks to the commission and the cases workers. Also adding to that the CCRC work has led to the public sceptical about the work of the system. The amount of backlog of cases that are not worked quick enough can be seen as a major problem and let down for the CCRC but this can also be put down to the fault of the government who wont fund them enough to employ more workers. The most time consuming cases would involve thorough investigations and in many circumstances the applicant's sentence would have finished when it comes to the time of the reviewing of the case.