Process Gains and Process Values: The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996

Published date01 January 1997
Date01 January 1997
AuthorMike Redmayne
Process Gains and Process Values: The Criminal
Procedure and Investigations Act 1996
Mike Redmayne*
In March last year, Lord Taylor delivered a speech criticising recent criminal
justice policy.
While the main target of his attack was the sentencing reforms that
had recently been proposed by Michael Howard,
two other issues also drew the
then Lord Chief Justice’s ire. First was the sheer volume of criminal justice
legislation unleashed in recent years. As yet another piece of suchlegislation finds
its way onto the statute books, many would doubtless agree that it is time to sit
back and take stock of recent changes rather than to press ahead with yet more. As
Lord Taylor noted, some of the provisions in recent statutes have been ill-
considered, and it is not surprising that the Criminal Procedure and Investigations
Act 1996 (hereafter, the Act) contains measures to deal with some of the mistakes
and oversights of previous legislation. The government has now accepted that its
proposal to replace committal proceedings with transfer for trial arrangements was
a mistake, and the Act contains measures to this effect.
The Act also contains a
provision to clarify police powers to conduct speculative searches of DNA
databases after recent statutes left these in some doubt.
At the same time, the Act
itself contains provisions the effects of which are so uncertain that they may never
be fully implemented.
Lord Taylor’s second criticism of recent criminal justice policy focused on the
extent to which considerations of efficiency have become pre-eminent in the
courts: ‘[i]f you walk into a Crown Court you are as likely to meet a management
consultant as a judge.’
The Act certainly confirms this trend. In this note I
concentrate on three main areas of the Act: the provisions on disclosure, pre-trial
hearings and mode of trial. All these are designed to streamline the criminal
process (though, as we will see, there is some doubt as to whether they will actually
achieve this end).
The Act’s disclosure provisions have their roots in the recommendations of the
Royal Commission on Criminal Justice.
The Commission’s general scheme,
The Modern Law Review Limited 1997 (MLR 60:1, January). Published by Blackwell Publishers,
108 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JF and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA. 79
*Faculty of Law, University of Manchester.
I am grateful to Roger Leng for comments on an earlier draft.
1 Taylor, ‘Continuity and Change in the Criminal Law’ (1996) 160 Justice of the Peace 190.
2 See the White Paper, Protecting the Public: The Government’s Strategy on Crime in England and
Wales (London: HMSO, 1996) Cm 3190.
3 Part V of the Act amends the provisions in s 44 of and Sched 4 to the Criminal Justice and Public
Order Act 1994 which abolished committal proceedings.
4 s 64 of the Act amends s63A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (itself inserted by s 56 of
5 See the discussion of preparatory hearings below, 87–89.
6 Taylor, n 1 above, 190.
7 Royal Commission on Criminal Justice, Report (London: HMSO, 1993) Cm 2263, 91–100.

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