A new Stories of Injustice report authored by Becky Clarke and Kathryn Chadwick for JENGbA (Joint Enterprise Not Guilty By Association) finds that at least 109 women have been sentenced to long prison terms on joint enterprise convictions.
Prosecutors rely on racist, classist and gendered narratives to secure convictions, the report finds. Additionally, in almost one half of cases there had been repeated failures, by the police and other agencies, to protect the women from violence as children and adults, or to respond to their health or care needs.
The report calls for a moratorium on the use of joint enterprise and secondary liability with women, and increased transparency and accountability in the decisions to use secondary liability by the Police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in cases involving female defendants in multi-offender cases.
The authors call for the evidence on the use of joint enterprise with women defendants to be scrutinised by a Parliamentary Committee with appropriate jurisdiction, alongside a ‘People’s Panel’ of relevant experts and interested parties. Existing barriers to legal appeals for those women currently in prison, where there is a very real possibility of a miscarriage of justice, also need to be removed.