Innocence Network UK (INUK) was established by Dr Michael Naughton, an academic expert on miscarriages of justice and wrongful convictions. It was set up in response to the apparent failures of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), set up in the wake of notorious miscarriages of justice such as the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six, to ensure that innocent victims of wrongful convictions will have their convictions overturned. The CCRC is not the hoped for or expected solution to the perennial problem of the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of the innocent that plagues the criminal justice system. As such, until and unless the CCRC is reformed or replaced, innocent people will continue to languish in prison and some may never be released.
Important Note: INUK was established in September 2004 and until January 2015 acted as an umbrella organisation that facilitated the establishment and supported the subsequent running of 36 member innocence projects in the UK – 35 in UK universities and one in a corporate law firm. INUK ceased this role in 2014 due to a general lack of interest and input by its member innocence projects and, perhaps most crucially, a general failure by member innocence projects to comply with the caseworking protocols (validated by the Attorney General’s Pro Bono Committee), meaning that many of the hundred plus cases referred by INUK to member innocence projects were not being sufficiently worked on and potentially innocent victims of wrongful convictions and imprisonment were being let down. On a more positive note, however, some notable innocence projects set up under the auspices of INUK have worked well and applications on behalf of ‘clients’ to the CCRC and Scottish CCRC were successfully referred back to the appeal courts for alleged innocent victims of wrongful convictions. The overturning of Dwaine George’s murder conviction in December 2014 provided further evidence of INUK’s success in identifying victims of wrongful convictions who have been failed by the existing criminal appeals system and the CCRC and cemented the evidence for the necessity and potential of innocence projects in the UK under the existing arrangements. Click here for more information.
INUK’s three interrelated purposes:
INUK provides access to a repository of Dr Naughton’s published researches on a range of different aspects relating to wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice.
INUK’s newsletter, INQUIRY, is a rich resource of articles and guides on how to investigate and overturn alleged wrongful convictions from other leading experts in the field, victims, practitioners and academics.
INUK employs an array of public engagement strategies to draw attention to the intentional wrongs and unintentional ‘errors’ of the criminal justice system that cause the wrongful conviction of the factually innocent and the limitations of the criminal appeals system and the CCRC to deal with claims of factual innocence by alleged victims of wrongful convictions.
Overall, INUK aims to influence public discourse, contribute to reforms of the criminal justice system and changes to prison and parole practices by educating about wrongful convictions and their harmful consequences so that the factually innocent are better placed to overturn their convictions and/or make progress or achieve release from prison.
It is important to note that INUK does NOT itself undertake casework into alleged wrongful convictions, it does NOT give legal advice and it is NOT a campaigning organisation or victim support group.
In specific terms, INUK served its member innocence projects by assessing claims of factual innocence by alleged victims of wrongful convictions and acting as a clearing house for referring eligible cases (i.e. cases in which something could be done to determine whether the claim of factual innocence was valid or not; truthful or not) to member innocence projects to further investigate and build upon lines of inquiry that arose in the assessment.
Also, if you feel that you have been a victim of a wrongful conviction and have exhausted the normal criminal appeal system (i.e. failed in your normal appeal) or had a refusal by the CCRC you can apply directly to the University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP), also founded and directed by Dr Michael Naughton, for your case to be considered for investigation on a pro bono basis (free).