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RESEARCH INFLUENCING POLICY

VIDEO INTRODUCTION – UCL PUBLIC POLICY AND UCL GRAND CHALLENGES

Ground-breaking research finds juries fair and effective

A report published by UCL’s Professor Cheryl Thomas (UCL Laws), Are Juries Fair? represents the most in-depth study into the issue ever undertaken in this country.  The Are Juries Fair? report received coverage in The Times and The Guardian, as well as Radio 4’s Today programme, and followed Professor Thomas' study of the representative nature of the jury system, Diversity and Fairness in the Jury System, published by the Ministry of Justice in June 2007.

The report involved a two-year survey of more than 1,000 jurors at Crown Courts and a separate study of over 68,000 jury verdicts. In the report, sensitive issues about jury decision-making were tackled for the first time. The report found that juries in England and Wales are fair, effective and efficient.

Gavel

Among other things, the report revealed that:

  • all-white juries do not discriminate against defendants from black and minority ethnic backgrounds
  • juries almost always reach a verdict and convict two-thirds of the time
  • there are no courts where juries acquit more often than convict

The study also shows that:

  • jurors want more information about how to do their job
  • written instructions improve jurors’ legal understanding of cases
  • some jurors use the Internet to look for information about their case
  • some jurors find media reports of their case difficult to ignore

Professor Thomas is based within UCL’s Centre for Empirical Legal Studies, and is the country’s leading jury expert.

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Page last modified on 15 feb 11 10:02