Lawyers and juries retain faith in trials
However, the survey, which was carried out for the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice, highlights concerns that innocent people are being found guilty in a significant minority of cases.
The research was carried out by Professor Michael Zander, of the London School of Economics, and will carry much weight with the commission when it reports next year. In a speech in London last night, he said: 'The criminal justice system is perhaps working better than we have thought.'
Questionnaires had been sent to about 7,600 jurors and most were completed. Judges, barristers, solicitors and defendants were also sent forms. The answers showed faith in trials and their conclusions, he said.
Jurors said virtually all barristers performed well and most judges were impartial and understandable. Juries were able to comprehend the evidence, even complex scientific issues.
There was also support for the retention of wigs and gowns, with almost 90 per cent of jurors saying that judges should continue to wear them.
Eight out of 10 judges expressed confidence in the jury system. However, 8 per cent of judges did say that the jury system was 'poor'. Judges and lawyers also thought most verdicts were right, although they doubted 15 per cent of decisions. 'Acquittals gave rise to more surprise than convictions,' Professor Zander said. But verdicts were only deemed 'inexplicable' in 2 to 4 per cent of cases. Lord Williams, chairman of the Bar Council, said the results 'confirmed the great value of the jury system'.
Both police and the Crown Prosecution Service were praised by most lawyers. However, in 15 cases, judges expressed concern about police officers' actions and said in four cases disciplinary proceedings should be considered. Professor Zander said: 'Grossed up on an annual basis, these four cases would represent more than 100 cases a year.'
Defendants who had been found guilty were generally prepared to accept that the judge had been fair and their barrister competent. However, Professor Zander stressed that only 19 per cent of defendants had replied, and most of these had been acquitted.
Nevertheless, more than 10 per cent of defendants who pleaded guilty said they had not committed the offence. In more than 50 per cent of contested cases, defendants met their barristers on the day of the trial with one-third of the meetings lasting less than 15 minutes. One in three defendants said they did not have enough time with counsel.
Anne Owers, director of the legal reform group Justice, said: 'What comes across is that . . . there is a minority of cases where there is concern and the system needs to be able to address that.'
The magicians using online collaboration to push boundaries
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
Jennifer Lawrence: 'It should be illegal to call someone fat on TV'
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
Ian Watkins: Police forces probed over earlier allegations as paedophile Lostprophets singer sentenced to 35 years for child sex offences
DNA from a 50,000 year old toe shows Neanderthals were highly inbred
Devyani Khobragade: India-US row escalates over arrest of diplomat in New York
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Ethan Couch: Texas quadruple murderer – or a victim of ‘affluenza’?
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber announces he's 'retiring from music'
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >
£60000 - £75000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Harrington Starr: A leading au...
£79000 - £93000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Commercial Property Associat...
£25000 - £32000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Business Analyst - Banking...
£21999 - £27001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have exten...