Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Inspecting Unused Material

I went to a Police Station today with Counsel to view some unused material in a long running Crown Court case that I am involved in. When we arrived at the Police Station we were ushered in to a room and spoke with one of the Officers involved in the case. Despite making several requests we were not permitted to view unused material! Instead we were told that we could view exhibits that had been mentioned in statements but not yet served.

Our verbal discussions continued and we were presented with an Officer of superior rank. Unfortunately the superior Officer knew nothing about the case and simply stated that a final decision had not yet been made whether we would be served with the items of unused material that we sought, but at this stage we would not be given access to them.

Counsel at this point suggested that the Police get hold of Prosecuting Counsel on the telephone. They then had a conversation something like this:

"I would like to view an item of unused material please."

"You can't".

"Why can't I?"

"Because I said so".

"Have you actually looked at the items I am asking for and decided that they are unsuitable to be served on the defence?"

"No."

"Why do you say I cannot see these items then?"

"Because I said so."

"If you are not going to be helpful I will get this case listed for mention to deal with disclosure issues".

"Go on then".

What a waste of time today was. Rather than sort out matters in a simple manner of negotiation the Prosecution and Police simply refuse to play ball. Due to today's incident a six week trial looks like it will last longer now. In my opinion (and I am of course biased) today is a fine example of the Prosecution being foolish when they know full well that the Court will ultimately order disclosure of the material that the Police denied me access to.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder what drives up the cost of court cases?

If we only we introduce personal liability for government employees stupid things like this simply wouldn't happen as both the police officer and CPS bod would then have to pay for the extra costs involved.

Dan said...

Just been introduced to this blog today, I must say I'm finding it very interesting. It was linked from "The Policeman's Blog". I am currently a law student, and as part of a mini-pupillage I worked with a Criminal Barrister, the snapshot that I got of the system in that week mirrors surprisingly accurately your portrayal.
I look forward to your next post.

Gavin said...

Anon,

I wish there was some concept of personal liability... oh if only!

Lennie Briscoe said...

Sounds like they are buying time or covering mistakes?

Gavin said...

I am not sure what game they are playing at the minute, but it is a waste of time as the Court will order that the material we asked for is served on us.