Amending laws to protect innocent people

 

Abuse in any way, shape or form can never be condoned but a fair trial system needs to be acheived and the system needs to prevent financial gain through making false allegations.

 

We believe that the Government should introduce or amend laws to properly protect innocent people from the damage caused by being falsely accused of committing a crime, including some or all of these proposals:

  • Financial compensation for alleged victims of sexual offences should be replaced with free counselling and other mental help unless there is absolute corroboration (video or photographic evidence of abuse, DNA from semen on the victim or his/her clothing if the victim is underage, etc.)

  • Enforce ‘Innocent until proved guilty’; nobody should ever again be convicted for a crime they didn’t commit just because someone else says they committed the crime. The judge must state to the jury: “If you have doubts, and those doubts are reasonable, then you must find the defendant not guilty”

  • There must be anonymity for all defendants until point of conviction.

  • A statute of limitations should be introduced to forbid prosecutors from charging someone with a crime that was alleged to have taken place more than five years ago where the only evidence of the crime is someone’s word. (In the case of the alleged victim being a child, they should have up to age 21 to make their allegation.)

  • Convictions should be quashed if there is ‘lurking doubt’ of the appellant’s guilt, following the Conclusions and Recommendations of the House of Commons Justice Committee Report on the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

  • Make it illegal to change the nature of any charges after the trial has begun.

  • Juries’ deliberations should be audio/video recorded and then where the evidence suggests innocence but the jury found them guilty anyway, the Court of Appeal should be able to consider whether the jury simply ‘got it wrong’.

  • Ensure that the Government's proposed Bill of Rights, while making it easier to convict (and deport in some cases) the truly guilty, also fully protects the ‘innocent until proved guilty’ status so that the innocent falsely-accused are not caught up in this.

 

Why is this important?

 

Many false accusations result from there being financial 'compensation' available if accusers are believed. Removing the financial reward for lying will dramatically reduce false allegations. When this change was made in Germany, the number of allegations dropped by over 80%, strongly suggesting that the majority of allegations made before this change took place were motivated by money.

 

While everyone is supposed to be considered 'Innocent until proved guilty', this does not happen in reality. Many have their name smeared in the press, lose their jobs, are put in prison, on remand, etc.

 

People realise they can make a false allegations of abuse dating back so far that there is no way the innocent victim can prove their innocence.

 

When a defendant proves they could not have committed a crime on a date or place specified, the accusers are proved to have given false information. And yet these discrepancies are often glossed over at trial, with the judge or prosecutor saying the accuser "might have got confused", and the date, place and other details are changed. When this happens after the defendant has presented their case, the defendant is then not afforded the opportunity to obtain evidence proving their innocence of the new accusation with the different details.

 

Juries get it wrong. If Juries’ deliberations were audio/video recorded, an appeal court could check whether they made serious errors of judgement during their deliberations.

 

Petition can be signed here

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