Joint enterprise requires legislation, MPs warn

Wednesday January 18th, 2012

A new report has warned that the law on joint enterprise is so confusing for juries and courts alike that legislation is needed to ensure justice for both victims and defendants and to end the high number of cases reaching the Court of Appeal.

The report – Joint Enterprise – published by the Justice Committee recommends that the Director of Public Prosecutions collate data on the number of people charged under joint enterprise so that problems with the operation of the law identified by campaigning groups representing both victims and those that say they have been convicted in a miscarriage of justice can be alleviated if necessary.

The Rt. Hon Sir Alan Beith MP, Chair of the Justice Select Committee, said: “This area of law is vital to ensuring the prosecution and conviction of criminals involved in gang-related violence in particular, but is now so complex that juries may find it impossible to understand how to reach the right verdict. This issue should not wait for a general review of the law of homicide which few governments would be willing to undertake.

“The law on joint enterprise has a role in deterring young people from becoming involved in gangs, but confusion over the law and how it works can put vital witnesses in fear of coming forward, allowing the real criminals to escape justice. It is also important to ensure that young people are not unnecessarily brought into the criminal justice system when they are on the edge of gang-related activity.”

To view the report, click here.

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