Innocence Network UK (INUK) was established by Dr Michael Naughton in September 2004 as a practical response to the limitations of the criminal justice system to overturn wrongful convictions identified in academic research. Put simply, there are many known causes of wrongful convictions to which innocent individuals can fall prey, both intentional and unintentional. However, the criminal appeals system and the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) cannot guarantee that all innocent victims of wrongful convictions will have their convictions overturned.
INUK is an apparatus with four broad interrelated purposes:
INUK is a vehicle for the circulation of Dr Naughton’s research on wrongful convictions and the research that he undertakes on wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice with others under the auspices of INUK. These researches feed into INUK’s public engagement and impact activities.
INUK undertakes independent, objective investigations into claims of factual innocence by alleged victims of wrongful convictions to determine whether they are true or not.
All investigations into alleged wrongful convictions by INUK are undertaken on a pro bono basis – free for public good.
INUK’s casework is undertaken by the University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP), also set up by Dr Naughton and the first innocence project in the UK. An Innocence Project is a group of students investigating the case of a convicted person maintaining innocence, who has exhausted the initial appeals process. Students aim to find evidence that will assist them in making an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) or the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) for that person’s case to be reviewed for referral back to the Court of Appeal/High Court of Justiciary. To get involved, UoBIP students (who also have opportunities to get involved with INUK research and public engagement activities) must first complete the INUK training on the key causes of wrongful convictions, assessing applications for casework assistance, investigating alleged wrongful convictions and writing applications to the CCRC and/or the SCCRC.
In addition, INUK assisted in the setting up and subsequent running of 35 additional innocence projects between 2005 and 2014, until this form of pro bono support for alleged innocent victims of wrongful convictions was firmly established in the UK and those projects were able to operate on their own.
INUK is a channel to communicate the failings and limitations of the criminal justice system to policy makers, criminal justice system agencies, the legal community and more widely to members of the public as they relate to wrongful convictions.
The focus of INUK’s public engagements is on the intentional wrongs and unintentional errors of the criminal justice system that cause wrongful convictions and the inability of the criminal appeals system and the CCRC/SCCRC to overturn wrongful convictions as identified in academic research and case investigations into alleged wrongful convictions.
INUK was established with the overall aim of improving the criminal justice system.
INUK is a medium to influence public discourse, reforms of the criminal justice system and changes to prison and parole practices from the findings of research and casework so that the innocent can overturn their convictions and/or make progress or achieve release from prison.
INUK draws support from a wide range of constituency groups concerned with wrongful convictions, including academics, criminal appeal lawyers, victim support groups and campaigning organisations, forensic scientists and investigative journalists.
It is crucial to note that INUK does NOT give legal advice and it is NOT a campaign or victim support group.
INUK is a member of The Innocence Network, an affiliation of organizations dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted and working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions.