Rape is most certainly a serious crime. And so is a mistrial or the jugging of the innocent a most serious crime. The little problem we have being that by the societal insistence upon the first we’ve managed to stray into committing that second crime. As even the Crown Prosecution Service is now admitting:
Prosecutors and police have found 47 cases where people were charged with rape or sexual attacks that have been stopped because of problems with evidence not being shared with the defence.
The review followed media revelations about disclosure, which is the duty of the prosecution to share potential evidence with the defence, even if it undermines their case.
The Criminal Bar Association said a wider inquiry was needed after the findings. It follows years of warnings that errors in disclosure could lead to the innocent being jailed and the guilty going free.
Well, yes, there might be some guilty going free as a result of this but that’s not the way the balance is going to be tilted. Refusal to share evidence is going to be slanted against the innocent – or at least those we shouldn’t be finding guilty – they being disadvantaged.
More than 3,600 cases were looked at in England and Wales after high profile rape trials collapsed due to lack of disclosure by prosecutors and police.
They’re getting this wrong in more than 1% of cases. Much too high a failure rate.
Almost 50 court cases, including 14 where the defendant was in custody, were dropped in six weeks because of issues with disclosure, the CPS has revealed.
And that’s just over that 6 weeks.
Our problem here being which is the greater crime? That someone who has suffered a crime not be able to see their attacker jugged? Or that someone innocent does get jugged? The basic and underlying rule of our judicial system is that the second is worse. That’s why we have the varied laws and restrictions that we do. This has bumped into, smashed into perhaps, that societal insistence that rape really must be taken more seriously, more should go down for it.
The task now is to insist that sure, we are taking rape seriously, we are prosecuting where there’s a reasonable chance that the case can be made and proven. But it’s far more important that we don’t dodge those rules to protect the innocent while we do so. Yea, whatever the harpies shriek at us. Heinz Kiosk is wrong, we ain’t all guilty.