Hundreds of prosecutions collapse over failure to disclose evidence - report

More than 900 criminal cases were dropped last year due to a failure by police or prosecutors to disclose evidence, it has been reported.

According to the BBC, this marked a 70% increase in the number of collapsed cases over the course of two years.

The corporation said figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that 916 people had charges dropped last year due to a failure to disclose evidence - up from 537 in 2014-15 and 732 the following year.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) told the BBC that the number of dropped cases represented just 0.15% of the total number of prosecutions, but said there were still "systemic disclosure issues".

Blackfriars Crown Court
Blackfriars Crown Court

The investigation comes after the high-profile collapse of several rape trials, with Scotland Yard announcing a review of its sex crime investigations after two rape cases were dropped in the space of a week in December.

The trial of Liam Allan, 22, was halted at Croydon Crown Court, while days later another prosecution collapsed against Isaac Itiary at Inner London Crown Court.

Angela Rafferty QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, told the BBC that barristers face "a daily struggle in respect of disclosure, delays and all the other disastrous consequences of a system that is openly described by MPs as at breaking point".

A CPS spokesman told the broadcaster: "We are clear that there are systemic disclosure issues across the criminal justice system which will require a collective effort in order to bring about improvement.

"Getting this right is a priority, and along with the police and other criminal justice partners we are working to improve how we fulfil these vital disclosure obligations."