New Project: Full reporting of a murder trial

The decline of court reporting over the last 25 years has been described as a “threat to justice”. Local newspapers may not have the staff or resources to cover a trial in depth and the national press, TV and radio are naturally interested only in the most important or topical cases. Most court reports in […]

‘It is like the justice system has given up’

Sometimes the justice system fails the family of murder victims. Five years ago Nattallie Correa, 27, was found battered to death after a fire at her flat in Dagenham. Her boyfriend, who escaped the blaze with her two youngest children, was charged but acquitted after a retrial at the Old Bailey. Nattallie’s family are now left […]

Homicide and Mental Illness

Following a series of stories about the number of people killed by mental health patients (1,200 in Britain in a decade, said The Sun), we decided to look at a single year in depth to illustrate the situation in London. In 2011 there were a total of 119 homicides. Twelve out of those 119 (just […]

Fitness to Plead: The Pritchard Criteria

What happens when the suspect in a murder trial is unable to understand the trial process? And what has that got to do with a man accused of having sex with an animal in 1836? In October 2012, 65 year-old Colin Hammond was stabbed to death in a street in Fulham, southwest London, by Frederic […]

Sanction Detection Rates

The ‘murder rate’ is one way of measuring the effectiveness of the justice system. Another is the percentage of homicides that are ‘cleared up’ – otherwise known as the Sanction Detection Rate. This means cases where a suspect has been identified but not necessarily convicted of the crime, perhaps because they have been acquitted on […]

The London Homicide Manual

How do detectives investigate a murder? Books, TV programmes and documentaries give us some idea – even if their focus is on a single grizzled cop who solves a homicide single-handed. But what exactly is the ‘procedure’ when that call first comes in about a dead body? As it happens the Metropolitan Police have what […]

Old Bailey Farewell to Stenographers

Think of the major criminal trials that have taken place in the Old Bailey since the beginning of the 20th Century: Dr Crippen, John Christie, Ruth Ellis, The Yorkshire Ripper, the Soham Murders… In each and every case the cast list has included, along with judges, journalists, clerks, barristers, and curious members of the public, […]

A Brief History of Cameras in Court

Earlier this month Sky, ITN and the BBC lobbied the government to allow cameras in court. The hope is that criminal trials could be televised as early as early as 2015. The ban on taking photographs goes back to 1925 but even before then cameras had to be smuggled into courtrooms in hats or bags. […]