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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

October 26, 2004: Previous Convictions Disclosed To Juries

New measures giving juries the opportunity to hear a wider range of relevant evidence in criminal trials were announced yesterday by Home Secretary David Blunkett.

Two categories of offences – theft and child sex offences – will be introduced. These two categories will help make a defendant’s previous convictions admissible evidence in criminal trials, if the defendant has a previous conviction that falls within the same category as the offence with which he is charged. When a defendant being tried for either a theft or child sex offence has a previous conviction for an offence which falls within the same category, the strong presumption will be that the conviction is revealed to the jury.

This paves the way for the implementation of more general bad character provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The bad character provisions of the Act are due to be implemented in full by mid-December 2004.

The provisions will apply to all types of offences. They will enable juries to have much greater access to information about a defendant’s previous convictions and other misconduct, where such information is relevant and likely to throw new light on a case without unduly prejudicing the fairness of the trial. This reverses the current position in which evidence of a defendant’s bad character is generally inadmissible in criminal proceedings.

The order containing categories of offences for theft and sex offences against a person under 16 that has been laid in Parliament on October 25th and will be subject to Affirmative Resolution after debate in both Houses. The government argues that safeguards will exist to ensure fairness; 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.

According to Home Secretary David Blunkett:

"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. 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. The categories I have introduced today… will give judges clear guidance in applying the bad character provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 in particular areas of offending."