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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

December 15, 2004: Disclosing Bad Character to Juries

Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland today announced implementation of the bad character provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 2003. These provisions give juries the opportunity to hear a wider range of relevant evidence in criminal trials.

Evidence of a defendant’s previous convictions and other misconduct will now be admissible in criminal trials provided it is relevant, will throw new light on the case, and is not likely to make the trial unfair. This reverses the current position, where evidence of a defendant’s bad character is generally not admitted in criminal proceedings. The provisions will cover all types of offences, and will apply to all cases in which charges are laid on or after 15 December.

The new provisions are part of the measures set out in the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Safeguards will exist to ensure fairness; in particular a court will retain the discretion to exclude evidence where it concludes the prejudicial effect on the jury would be greater than its probative value.

Baroness Scotland said:

“The law has recognised for over a century that evidence of a defendant’s previous convictions and other misconduct may be admitted in some circumstances. But the current rules are confusing and difficult to apply, and can mean that evidence of previous misconduct that seems clearly relevant is still excluded from court.

“Trials should be a search for the truth and juries should be trusted with all the relevant evidence available to help them to reach proper and fair decisions. Judges can exclude evidence of bad character if they think it would be unfair or not in the interests of justice to include it.

“The bad character provisions are a response to widespread public concern about the current state of the law in this area. The reforms will replace the complexity of current rules governing the admissibility of evidence of bad character with a coherent statutory scheme. They aim to strike a proper balance between ensuring on the one hand that magistrates and juries are able to take account of the widest range of relevant evidence when deciding cases, and on the other, that any convictions are made on a safe and solid basis of evidence.”