Detectives and disclosure : an analysis of the implementation of the disclosure provisions of the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 by CID officers, based on a study of operational procedure in two police force areas
The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 introduced new procedures for the handling of unused material in criminal cases. Defective treatment of such material has been a central aspect of many of the most notorious miscarriages of justice of the past 25 years. This work seeks to present an overview of the first three years of disclosure under the new provisions, by reference to a study of disclosure practice within two police force areas. In addition, by examining the process of investigation and file preparation, it is possible to identify the operational and cultural factors within the police service which continue to impede the effective treatment of unused material. Central to this process are the working practices of the CID and the way in which they interface with other elements of the criminal justice system. This thesis presents an ethnographic analysis of the reasoning and strategies employed by those involved in the process of disclosure, in an attempt to highlight weaknesses in the current regime for the handling of unused material. Having identified those aspects of police working practice which militate against the effective operation of the 1996 Act, the study concludes with consideration of the most recent Government proposals in relation to disclosure in order to assess their likely success.