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Criminal Cases Review Commission

Volume 488: debated on Tuesday 3 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many (a) complaints and (b) items of correspondence have been received by the Criminal Cases Review Commission in relation to historical sex abuse investigations in the UK in each year since 2001. (259302)

Since 2001, there has been one complaint made to the Commission in relation to a care home sexual abuse case. This complaint, made in 2001, was by an applicant who had applied unsuccessfully to the Commission for his case to be reviewed in 1999 and who was dissatisfied with the way in which the Commission determined his case. The complaint, which was not upheld, was investigated by the Commission’s complaint manager in accordance with the Commission’s formal complaints procedure.

Since 2001, the Commission has received 39 applications relating to cases of this nature. By year:

Number of applications

2001

8

2002

8

2003

7

2004

5

2005

5

2006

1

2007

5

2008

0

2009 to date

0

It has not been possible in the time available to calculate the exact figure, or identify the year in which a particular item of correspondence has been received. The Commission estimates that, since 2001, it has received 1,940 items of correspondence in relation to the 39 cases of this nature.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent changes the Criminal Cases Review Commission has made to the way in which it (a) assesses cases and (b) determines which cases are (i) eligible and (ii) ineligible for review. (259481)

There have been no changes in the way in which the Commission assesses cases. Every case is assessed independently and on its own merits. The Commission reviews applications to decide whether there is a real possibility that the relevant appeal court will quash a conviction or amend a sentence.

There has also been no change in the way in which the Commission assesses which cases are eligible for review. The conditions for eligibility for review are set down in sections 9-12 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. As a consequence, the only substantive ground on which the Commission can refuse to accept an application to review a case is where the applicant has not been convicted of a criminal offence in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

There are other criteria that normally have to be met before an application is accepted such as that the applicant needs to have exhausted the normal appeal processes before applying to the CCRC. However, Section 13 of the Criminal Appeal Act provides that, in exceptional circumstances, conditions other than the requirement to have a relevant conviction can be waived.