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Criminal Justice Act 2003

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 24 May 2007

To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (1) what assessment she has made of the impact on the conviction rate of those pleading not guilty before the courts of the provisions of sections 100 to 103 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003; (138936)

(2) what estimate she has made of (a) the number of contested trials in which, since the commencement of sections 100 to 103 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, evidence of bad character has been admitted, (b) the number and percentage of those trials which have resulted in conviction and (c) the percentage of all trials before the courts in which such evidence has been admitted;

(3) what assessment she has made of the overall effects on the criminal justice system of the implementation of sections 100 to 103 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

Detailed statistics on these matters are not collected routinely. However, following the implementation of Part 11 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, we have conducted a research project to evaluate the effect of the bad character provisions. The aims of the research are: to determine how frequently applications are made to adduce evidence about the bad character of the defendant and of non-defendants in criminal trials and how frequently applications are granted and refused; to establish how the provisions are being implemented and interpreted by legal practitioners and the courts; to explore what impact the provisions have had upon the balance struck between prosecution and defence interests in criminal trials; to consider to what extent, if any, the provisions have had a differential impact upon defendants or non-defendants from black and minority ethnic groups; and to explore whether the provisions have had any impact upon witnesses’ willingness to give evidence. This research is currently undergoing a peer review process.