Little has Changed: Report on the Continued Use of Joint Enterprise

The usual suspects: Joint enterprise prosecutions before and after the Supreme Court ruling

The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies has released the second edition of a report assessing the use of joint enterprise. In light of their findings, they are calling for a review of the application of joint enterprise rules and have highlighted just how little has changed, despite the Supreme Court ruling in R v Jogee[1].

Details

The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies have collected data in relation to multi-defendant cases over a period of 15 years. This time period includes both before and after the 2016 Supreme Court judgment which ruled that the law on joint enterprise had taken a “wrong turn” for more than thirty years and abolished the use of ‘parasitic accessory liability’ as the sole basis for criminal liability.

Among the report’s findings are that:

  • Over a thousand secondary suspects were convicted of murder and manslaughter in the ten-year period leading up to 2020.
  • Those from minority ethnic communities, particularly the Black community, are consistently over-represented in multi-defendant prosecutions and convictions for homicide.
  • The Supreme Court ruling in Jogee had no discernible impact on the numbers or demographics of people prosecuted or convicted of murder and manslaughter in multi-defendant cases.

In addition, the report further noted that there had been only one historic conviction successfully overturned since the ruling.

As a result of its findings, the report makes the following recommendations:

  • A full parliamentary select committee inquiry to be set up to consider the issues.
  • The CPS to commission an independent representative audit of their decision-making, especially for young people, in cases of homicide.
  • Improved data collection and transparency on the use of joint enterprise.

This is a timely publication as it has come in the same week that Edward Argar MP, Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, acknowledged that joint enterprise convictions have disproportionately impacted those from a Black and Minority Ethnic background. His exchange with Kate Osamor MP can be viewed here

This is the second edition of the report, after the datasets used were clarified from the first edition.

Commentary

It is shocking that despite the high hopes around the Jogee ruling, this report has found that the decision has had no discernible impact on the amount or the demographics of those for whom joint enterprise is used in the most serious cases.

The exchange in the House of Commons demonstrates that the government recognises the disproportionality of the use of joint enterprise, but little is being done to address it and insufficient data is being collected, which would be the first step towards addressing the issue. This report is a helpful call for real action to be taken to address this issue.

 

Written by Robbie Eyles, Solicitor, Just For Kids Law