The Police Chiefs' Blog
Policing is at the tipping point – and we’ve got to move on from here
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council October 2018
Blog: CC Andy Rhodes – Protect the protectors
Guest Blog: Afzal Khan MP on Give A Day To Policing
Police Chiefs Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables Council July 2018
Police Chiefs' blog: CC Sara Thornton on Chief Constables' Council April 2018
Police Chiefs' blog: CC Dee Collins - Closing the gender pay gap
Police Chiefs' blog: CC Sara Thornton on Chief Officers' Day - March 2018
Police Chiefs' blog: CC Sara Thornton on Disclosure - February 2018
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Anthony Bangham - Road enforcement must be proportionate
Police Chiefs Blog: CC Nick Ephgrave - changing the culture on disclosure
Police Chiefs Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council January 2018
Guest Blog: Programme Director Jo Ashworth on Transforming Forensics
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Shaun Sawyer on Modern Slavery
Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Police funding: do we have the resources we need?
Cmdr Matt Twist: Use of force data is a great step forward for for transparency
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council July 2017
Blog: CC Sara Thornton - We need to talk about wellbeing in policing
CC Dave Thompson blog: Policing funding - what do we need to tackle the threats
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council April 2017
ACC Mark Roberts blog: We all have the same aim - a safe and enjoyable World Cup
NPCC Questions and Answers on Conducted Energy Devices (aka Taser)
CC Simon Cole Blog: Uniform that's uniform! February 2017
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council January 2017
CC Stephen Kavanagh Blog: Our world has gone digital January 2017
DCC Louisa Rolfe Blog: Coercive control can affect anyone. December 2016
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council October 2016
DAC Helen Ball Blog: Reflections on 'Look Outs'. October 2016
Sara Thornton Blog: It's time for a sharing economy in policing. October 2016
CC Simon Bailey: We have to intervene earlier to stop child abuse. August 2016
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council July 2016
Mark Rowley blog: Communities defeat terrorism - 3639 times a day, 1 August 2016
CC Sara Thornton blog - Unity & respect needed, not hate crime. June 2016
Cmdr Simon Bray Blog: Legal highs? Not as legal as you thought – 26 May 2016
CC Jane Sawyers Blog: International Day Against Homophobia - 17 May 2016
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council April 2016
CC Simon Cole Blog: Prevent - 21 April 2016
Police Chiefs Blogs: International Women's Day - 8 March 2016
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council January 2016
Sara Thornton Blog: Christmas greeting - Dec 2015
Sara Thornton Blog: Police budgets, reform & specialist capabilities - Dec 2015
Steve Kavanagh Blog: Policing the digital age - December 02 2015
Adrian Leppard: Fraud and Cyber-crime: What's being done? October 15 2015
Sexting, young people and the police: Working towards a common-sense solution
Sara Thornton Blog: Investigating burglary will always be a priority - Aug 2015
Police Chiefs' Blog: Sara Thornton, Chief Constables Council July 2015
A future for local policing - Blog by CC Simon Cole, NPCC Lead on Local Policing
Commander Chris Greany NPoCC Blog, 8 July 2015
Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh: We have to think digital, 11 June 2015
CC Jane Sawyers: International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), 15 May 2015
Martin Hewitt: Building on the success of the Not Guilty campaign, 11 May 2015
Commander Chris Greany NPoCC Blog, 3 March 2015
Shaun Sawyer: Smashing the bonds of modern slavery remains a policing priority
Pat Geenty: Take care of yourself and your property this Christmas, 12 Dec 2014
Commander Chris Greany: My first eight weeks
Simon Cole: Police seek more reports of disability hate crime
Commander Chris Greany - New Head of NPoCC, 23 September 2014
Police And Communities Working Together To End FGM, 3rd July 2014
Gareth Pritchard - Changes to dangerous dogs legislation - 16 May 2014
Francis Habgood - Building trust in crime recording, 14 April 2014
Autism Society - Autism awareness can improve police practice, 2 April 2014
ACPO President on our FOI Disclosure Log publication, 21 February 2014
The Future of ACPO - A blog by our President, Sir Hugh Orde, 17 Jan 2014
Simon Bray - Understanding the impact of new psychoactive substances,17 Jan 2014
Guest Blog, Paul Burstow MP - Policing and mental health,12 December 2013
Martin Hewitt - Rape discussion provokes strong feelings, 2 December 2013
Suzette Davenport - Drink and drug drivers, 2 December 2013
Mick Creedon - Fighting serious organised crime, 18 November 2013
Andy Marsh - Firearms licence-holders are no cash cows, 1 November 2013
Simon Chesterman – Police use of Taser and training, 12 July 2013
Julian Blazeby - Police use of automatic number plate recognition, 18 June 2013
Pat Geenty - Improving the police response to missing people, 24 May 2013
Adrian Lee - Police commitment to tackling alcohol harm, 15 May 2013
Andy Trotter - Secret Justice, 30 April 2013
Garry Shewan - Stalking. Know the law, use the law, 18 April, 2013
International Women's Day - Women in Policing, 8 March 2013
A word from ACPO president, Sir Hugh Orde - 22 February 2013
A word from ACPO president, Sir Hugh Orde - 25 January 2013
Martin Hewitt - Adult Sex Offences, 17 December 2012
David Whatton - Violence against women and girls, 4 December 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 15 November 2012
Simon Cole- Policing and Dementia, 8 November 2012
Dave Thompson - Police work to tackle gun crime on our streets, 30 October 2012
Sara Thornton - Authorised Professional Practice, 22 October 2012
Alex Marshall - Drones, 9 October 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 25 September 2012
Andy Marsh - changes to firearms licensing, 18 September 2012
Simon Cole - disability hate crime, 10 September 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 14 August 2012
Ian Learmonth - The riots one year on, 7 Aug 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 20 July 2012
Alex Marshall - PCCs, 10 July 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 26 June 2012
Nigel Brook - Budget cuts, 22 June 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 10 May 2012
Simon Cole - Local policing and partnerships, 4 May 2012
Nigel Brook - Police Finance and Resources, 12 April 2012
Peter Fahy - Winsor Part Two, 30 March 2012
Gareth Pritchard - Policing dangerous dogs, 27 March 2012
David Whatton - Investigating rape, 8 March 2012
Dave Thompson - Renewed focus upon gangs is welcomed by the police, 8 Feb 2012
Simon Byrne outlines the benefits of ANPR technology, 7 February 2012
Simon Cole - Responding to mental ill-health and disability, 17 January 2012
Ian Dyson - The new police 101 non emergency number, 11 January 2012
Andy Adams - Custody Matters, 28 November 2011
Rob Beckley - 'Big Society' and volunteering, 17 November 2011
Simon Byrne - Policing prostitution and sexual exploitation, 2 November 2011
Tim Hollis: Policing Drugs in Austerity - Adjusting to the challenge,12 October 2011
Olivia Pinkney: Policing the exploitation of labour, 26 September 2011
Tim Hollis: Reflections on Disorder, 12 September 2011
Sir Hugh Orde: Tension between politicians and police is healthy
Sara Thornton: Providing the best leaders, 29 July 2011
Phil Gormley: Recovery of vehicles - the truth, 28 June 2011
John Feavyour: Police complaints and improving public service, 23 June 2011
Sir Norman Bettison: Prevent Review, 7 June 2011
Janet Williams: Policing cyberspace, 9 May 2011
Mark Rowley: Surrey Police, bureaucracy and the frontline, 15 April 2011
Chris Sims: Frontline Policing, 11 April 2011
Graeme Gerrard: CCTV surveillance, 3 March 2011
Garry Shewan: Stalking and harassment, 10 February 2011
Sir Hugh Orde: A new direction, 26 January 2011
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Police Chiefs Blog: CC Nick Ephgrave - changing the culture on disclosure

Every investigation is a search for truth. That means following all leads and examining all evidence – with objectivity and impartiality. It also means disclosing any of the material gathered in that search that may undermine the prosecution or help the defence. The cases of Liam Allan and Issac Itiary demonstrate the devastating consequences of not doing so.

Over the last six months, police and the Crown Prosecution Service have been looking in depth at disclosure failings and, last week, the Director for Public Prosecutions led a seminar with police chiefs and the judiciary to discuss why they are happening and what we need to do across the system to improve.

Disclosure is the release of material gathered during an investigation that is not relied upon by the prosecution but which may be relevant to the case. The prosecution team and police have a duty to review this unused material and determine whether there’s anything in it that undermines their case or supports the defence. Anything that does so must be disclosed to the defence team, with everything else listed on a schedule. Simple - at least in theory, so why has there been such difficulty in getting this right?

We have had a cultural problem with disclosure where it is too often seen by police officers as a thing to be done at the end of an investigation - becoming subsequent to rather than integral to the investigation. Changing this mindset is an immediate challenge for us.

But the world has changed enormously in the twenty years since the legislation that sets out the duty to disclose was drafted. A typical investigation today will involve the seizure of several digital devices - phones, tablets or computers. The average smartphone contains huge amounts of communications data including messages, photographs and video as well as a record of web browsing and communication on social media and apps. A conservative estimate equates this to around 30, 000 pages of A4 paper. The issue facing the investigator, then, is how can one realistically review and document all of that, especially when they may have seized a number of devices?

Firstly, we've got to address the mindset. Reports from criminal justice inspectorates and by Richard Horwell QC make clear there is a general lack of understanding about disclosure. The College of Policing is reviewing what is needed from training and guidance to make it effective on disclosure. It is also about leadership – we need every force to have a chief officer responsible for disclosure to lead improvements and ensure supervisors and managers understand and fulfil their responsibilities. This must be backed up by robust oversight to check forces are complying with agreed standards including regular dip sampling to test cases.

Secondly, we’ve got to ensure our processes work for modern day and future disclosure, not for days gone by. There are difficult choices to make here. We’ve considered going as far as providing defence teams with all the material, unreviewed, so they can decide if any of it assists their case. It is superficially attractive but does not survive scrutiny. Firstly, no prosecutor worth their salt will provide volumes of material to the defence that they have not themselves viewed, for very good reason –it allows for the unscrupulous to manipulate and ambush the prosecution to delay or avoid justice. Secondly, there are very real issues about providing personal, often sensitive, information to third parties as it will almost certainly impinge upon the privacy of persons unconnected with the investigation.

Instead, we think the solution is tied to that search for truth and ensuring that investigators are consistently identifying and pursuing all reasonable lines of enquiry, whether they exonerate the suspect or build a case against them. This then acts as a clear guide to investigators that they must disclose any information that relates to these lines of enquiry but they do not have to review irrelevant material. This approach is in line with Attorney General’s guidance on disclosure. The trick is in defining what’s reasonable and equipping all investigators to make that judgement – this is where we are now concentrating.

Longer term we must also must pursue how technology, particularly artificial intelligence, can help us deal with the expanse of digital material more quickly and efficiently.

Disclosure is top of the agenda today at Chief Constables Council, where I'll present our action plan with the Director of Public Prosecutions. By the end of the month, we will publish the finalised plan for driving improvements with ambitious timescales because we want to do all we can, as quickly as we can, to get disclosure right.

Chief Constable Nick Ephgrave, NPCC Lead for Criminal Justice