The chairman of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has attacked ?mindless? budget cuts, warning that they could delay justice for the wrongly-convicted.
The CCRC?s funding, which comes from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), fell by 3.7% from ?7.9 million to ?7.6 million over the last year, despite an increase in its workload.
The body, which reviews alleged miscarriages of justice, received 1,051 applications in 2006-07, compared with 1,011 the previous year. It closed 990 cases, down 2%.
It also referred 38 cases to the appeal court during the year. The court, meanwhile, decided the cases of 47 people previously referred by the commission, 70% of which resulted in a quashed conviction or reduced sentence.
In the CCRC?s annual report, published last week, Professor Graham Zellick said: ?Standard annual across-the-board reductions in budgets for public bodies are mindless. They have no regard to whether the body is adequately-funded in the first place, assume that all bodies are over-funded and that further economies must be possible.?
Professor Zellick said the current resource levels caused delay and resulted in the further denial of justice to some applicants ? ?all for the sake of around ?500,000 a year?.
An MoJ spokeswoman insisted the CCRC was properly funded. She said: ?Following a review of its case-working procedures by independent consultants, the CCRC has maintained and, in some respects, increased its performance. This confirms that there are efficiency savings that can and should be made.?