Nicholas Hall asks how do we correctly acknowledge victimhood in our criminal justice system?
Nicholas recently worked on a pro bono case with Hogan Lovells which saw the successful application to remove the previous convictions of a victim of human trafficking from her record. The case raised the important question of how many other vulnerable individuals have been exploited and convicted, have then challenged their abusers in courts, and yet their convictions have remained.
Commenting in Counsel Magazine, Nicholas said:
"Complainants give evidence at criminal trials at tremendous personal sacrifice for the benefit of the UK CJS. They often lack the resources, knowledge or skills to manoeuvre a s 142 application. Moreover, many trafficking victims return to home countries where access to the UK courts, and legal advice, is almost impossible.
Why then should the burden fall on complainants/defendants to have their previous convictions removed?
Should not our system therefore have an automatic review of previous convictions for those complainants in trials to see whether they are eligible for re-opening? Alternatively, should there be more of a discretion to expunge those convictions from the record? Similarly, should not our system be asking itself whether it is still valid to have the historic convictions of those pushed into sex work held on record?
Only by asking these questions can we work towards properly acknowledging victimhood within our criminal justice system."
Read full piece here: [Counsel Magazine]