TitleScoping Study into Quantitative Methods Capacity Building in Scotland
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsMcVie, Susan, Coxon Tony, Hawkins Phil, Palmer Jackie, and Rice Robin
PublisherScottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research
Keywordstraining and knowledge exchange
Abstract

The report presents the findings of research commissioned by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (‘the Commission’) to mark the 10th anniversary of its establishment. The research commenced on 10 July 2008 and will conclude with the submission of a final report to the Commission by 30 April 2009. The research was undertaken by researchers working within the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, and reviewed the 75 cases referred by the Commission to the High Court of Justiciary sitting as a court of appeal (‘the appeal court’) in the period 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2008. The research aimed to learn more about the references made by the Commission, how its statements of reasons in such cases have been received by the legal profession and the manner in which its grounds of reference have been determined by the court.

Chapters 1, 2 and 3 provide the background to the research, the legal framework governing the Commission’s work, and details of the research methods used.

Chapter 4 reviews the nature of the cases which were referred to the appeal court by the Commission, the grounds on which they were referred and the time taken by the Commission to refer cases. It notes that the majority of cases referred by the Commission involve serious crimes, but that the Commission’s work is not restricted to such cases. The most common ground for referring convictions to the appeal court is evidence not heard at the original trial, with the next most common grounds being a failure to disclose and defective representation. By far the most common ground for referring sentences was the improper calculation of the punishment part of a life sentence.

Chapter 5 reviews the treatment of referred cases by the appeal court, with particular reference to grounds of appeal which went beyond the Commission’s basis for referral. Such grounds were rarely successful, and where they were this was always in conjunction with other grounds. The chapter finds that 60% of conviction referrals and 92% of sentence referrals resulted in successful appeals. Of those referred cases which have been determined by the appeal court, the mean time taken from referral to determination was 631 days.

Chapter 6 reports the results of a programme of interviews with legal processionals (solicitors and advocates) regarding the Commission’s work. It finds that the work of the Commission, and the quality thereof, has been positively received. It notes various suggestions for improvement made by interviewees.

Chapter 7 draws together the results of the research, reviewing in particular the nature of cases referred to the appeal court, grounds of referral and grounds of appeal, the “success” of the Commission, the function of the Commission, and delay in proceedings before the appeal court.