The package comprises:
- Front page story: Justice by Postcode: the lottery revealed
- Inside detail: Prosecutors in dock over disparity in convictions
- Graphic: CPS data region by region
- Legal Editor’s Briefing: Reforms are essential as the CPS seeks even bigger role
- Leading Article: Unjust deserts
- A colour piece from Bedfordshire court: Delays are criminal at worst court in England
I wanted to get some empirical data to get behind the breezy rhetoric of politicians and journalists to see what was really happening in the criminal justice system. I sent an FOI request to the CPS asking for their caseload disposition database and went from there. I have posted an insider’s guide on how I did this story in the Secret Squirrel section.
I was impressed with the helpfulness and timely way the CPS FOI officer dealt with my request and the quality of the raw data I received. The reason so much of British journalism is simplistic and polemical is due to the dearth of objective, raw data publicly available. The CPS should be praised for opening itself to public scrutiny in this way, and now that we have some facts, we can begin an informed public debate about the way we want to run our criminal justice system.
The project prompted the CPS to publish its own league table, which mirrored my findings: CPS publishes own league table
In addition, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ken MacDonald, and others contributed to the debate in today’s Letters to the Editor.