Until this week, I had no idea how high the rate of wrongful convictions were in the UK. I knew it was pretty appalling in the US, but here in Britain we have this engrained belief that we are somehow the most developed and just nation in the world - when in fact, we're just not there yet.
According to the University of Law, between June 2019 and March 2020 "There were 1,336 successful appeals against both decisions of Magistrates’ courts and the Court of Appeal". How shocking is that?
Imagine being falsely imprisoned for a crime such as murder. In modern times, that means losing 15 to 20 years of your life (depending on the nature of the crime), but imagine facing a miscarriage of justice before the death penalty was abolished in 1965. I'm sure being executed for a crime you have committed is bad enough, but imagine being innocent and knowing that was your punishment.
Also enraging, was the story of the West Midlands Police Serious Crime Squad which resulted in over 100 convictions collapsing or being successfully appealed. The culture of misconduct was rife within this squad, notably denying suspects the right to have a solicitor present during interview, fabricating evidence and being placed under duress in order that a confession could be obtained.
I can't think of a perfect justice system anywhere in the world, but I never imagined quite how imperfect that of England and Wales is. We call ourselves a modern and developed nation, but I suspect we have a lot to be angry about.