CCRC promises ‘greater transparency and openness’ with launch of new public engagement initiative

A prison officer checking on a cell at HMP Wandsworth. Pic by Andy Aitchison from Proof magazine

The Criminal Cases Review Commission is launching two new public engagement initiatives for 2018: a CCRC lecture series and a stakeholder forum.  In 2018 there will be three lectures by leading figures in the criminal justice field and three meetings of a new stakeholder forum.

Both the lecture series and stakeholder forum meetings will be hosted by University College London’s Judicial Institute.

The inaugural CCRC lecture will be delivered by Sir Brian Leveson, newly appointed Head of Criminal Justice in  England and Wales, President of the Queen’s Bench Division and the author of the 2015 Review of Efficiency of Criminal Proceedings.  Sir Brian’s will speak on ‘The Pursuit of Criminal Justice’.  CCRC commissioner David James Smith said: ‘The Commission is delighted that Sir Brian, one of our most senior judges and the new Head of Criminal Justice, has agreed to give the first ever CCRC Lecture.  We hope the lecture series will stimulate wider debate about important issues facing the CCRC and the criminal justice system more widely.’

The inaugural CCRC lecture will take place 25 April at UCL Faculty of Laws Bentham House, 6pm and will be followed by a Q&A session. Attendance at the lecture is by invitation and there is limited availability. Anyone wishing to express an interest in attending the lecture is asked to email

Commissioner David James Smith also acknowledged the support of UCL in the new ventures: ‘Professor Cheryl Thomas of UCL’s Judicial Institute has been an invaluable academic advisor to the CCRC’s Research Committee, and we very much appreciate her and UCL’s support in hosting our new lecture series and stakeholder forum.’

The new CCRC forum will meet for the first time on April, 25 at UCL in the afternoon before the inaugural lecture. The forum is designed to promote dialogue and understanding between the Commission and a cross-section of its key stakeholders and users.

The new stakeholder forum was first mooted in public by David James Smith at the CCRC’s 20th anniversary conference in November last year.  He said: ‘I hope this will be the start of a new phase of greater transparency and openness at the CCRC at a critical time for criminal justice. We aim to put the CCRC at the centre of the debate about wrongful convictions. CCRC staff and Commissioners are looking forward to engaging with stakeholders and users at the new forum and we are always receptive to ideas for improved ways of working.’

The forum will be open to a limited number of stakeholders by invitation. Anyone wishing to express an interest is asked to email

‘At the CCRC we’re very lucky in that people generally agree that miscarriages of justice matter,’ commented CCRC’s head of communications Justin Hawkins. ‘It means we’ve always enjoyed lively relationships with the many different individuals and groups who have a stake in our work. We have never shied away from engaging honestly with these stakeholders, and even with our most trenchant critics. We aim to ensure that those voices are heard at the new forum. We hope it will give us and those involved in our work a real opportunity to talk through some practical matters.’

The second lecture (‘Joint Enterprise Appeals – have the Courts of England & Wales lost sight of justice?’) will be given by Felicity Gerry QC on Thursday, 12 July 2018 at UCL, following the second meeting of the Stakeholder Forum that same afternoon at UCL. A third lecture and forum are expected to take plane at UCL in November 2018.

Author: Jon Robins

Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon’s books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council’s journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year’s Criminal Justice Alliance’s journalism award

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