The Last Hope for the Innocent
The Criminal Cases Review Commission was established following the Runciman Commission and enacted through the 1995 Criminal Appeal Act. It is an independent body charged with reviewing miscarriages of justice.
Generally, applicants are expected to have appealed before approaching the commission although it does retain a discretion to accept cases which have not been subject to appeal.
Cases are investigated by a Case Review Manager and once complete a decision will be made by a Single Commissioner or Group of Commissioners as to whether the case should be referred.
The test for referral in conviction cases is whether if the case is referred there is a reasonable possibility that the Court of Appeal would not uphold the conviction. This requires the Commission to second guess what the Court of Appeal would do the consequence of this has often been for the commission to be criticised over its relationship with the Court of Appeal. It has over the years had the level of funding it receives eroded which has in turn affected its delivery and performance. Yet despite all of these issues, compared to the Old Dept. C3 at the Home Office, it still remains the best last hope the wrongfully convicted can get.