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Updates from Fair Trials

Tributes to long-time trustee and chair Peter Lipscomb

Fair Trials mourns Peter Lipscomb OBE, who served as a trustee and chair for more than a decade during a critical period in our organisation’s history.

Peter Lipscomb became a trustee of Fair Trials in 1999. He later took over the chairmanship and “propelled Fair Trials to a position of global leadership”, said the founder of Fair Trials, Stephen K. Jacobi. Former CEO Jago Russell noted: “Peter’s selfless commitment to resisting the erosion of the rule of law, and to Fair Trials and its employees, was inspiring." 

Norman L. Reimer, CEO of Fair Trials also paid tribute to Peter: “Although I did not have the privilege of meeting Peter, his work to support Fair Trials and advance the causes of human rights and criminal justice reform is legendary. His legacy lives on in the vital work Fair Trials undertakes to promote fairness and justice.” 
Read more about Peter Lipscomb's work at Fair Trials here

England and Wales: almost 1,800 people in pre-trial detention for over a year

Our recent freedom of information (FOI) request revealed the continuing breakdown of the justice system in England and Wales. Thousands of people awaiting trial are being imprisoned for long periods of time:

  • Over 3,800 people have been held for longer than six months.
  • Almost 1,800 people have been held for longer than one year.
  • Over 500 people have been held for more than two years.

Although pre-trial detention is meant to be an exceptional measure of last resort, the figures demonstrate otherwise. Over half of those held on remand for over six months are detained for non-violent crimes. Many people on remand also walk free after trial.

Black people are disproportionately remanded in custody more than white people, despite being more likely to be acquitted and less likely to be sent to prison at trial.

Read our press release here
Find out more about pre-trial detention here

Over 12,000 people profiled by flawed Durham police predictive AI tool 

Following an FOI request, we learned that Durham police (UK) used an AI profiling tool, the Harm Assessment Risk Tool (HART), to assess more than 12,000 people between 2016 and 2021.  The tool was used to classify people’s risk of re-offending and decide whether they are charged or diverted onto a rehabilitation programme. 3,292 people were assessed as ‘high’ risk, and are likely to have been charged and prosecuted rather than offered the opportunity for rehabilitation.

Previous analysis of HART showed the system has many serious flaws, including the deliberate over-estimation of people’s likelihood of re-offending, and the use of racist data profiles. Fair Trials has called for a ban on predictive policing tools such as HART.

Read our press release here
Read our report on AI systems in criminal justice (including HART) here

Interested in finding out more about the use of AI in policing and criminal justice? Sign up to our AI mailing list to get regular updates and to find out how you can get help stop the use of this harmful tech.

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