Currently there are at least 109 women and girls in prison who are serving long sentences for joint enterprise crimes, but research by Manchester Metropolitan University suggests they have been wrongly convicted using the controversial law on secondary liability, which allows an individual to be jointly convicted of a crime committed by another, if they foresaw that the other person was likely to commit it.
The majority have convictions for serious violence, with over three-quarters convicted of murder or manslaughter.
However, according to the report, almost half of the women disclosed that they were experiencing domestic violence at the time of the offence, and in 87 per cent of cases, the perpetrator of the abuse was a co-defendant.
A larger number had experienced violence or abuse as adults or children, with repeated failures by the police or other agencies to protect them. But their histories of abuse and trauma were generally ignored or used against them at trial.
The study also revealed that the women were often marginal to the event: in no case did any use a deadly weapon, 90 per cent engaged in no violence at all, and in half of the cases the women were not even present at the scene.
Yet they were convicted and punished in the same way,
Well, yes. That’s what joint enterprise means. That mebbe you weren’t there, you certainly didn’t swing the hammer that crushed the skull. But you’re still criminally responsible. That’s the whole point of the concept.
Boyfriend goes out and kills hubby, gets some rumpy when he comes back. Not guilty. Boyfriend gets told that he ain’t ‘avin’ rumpy if husband still alive. Guilty. Vague words about ridding of this troublesome husband, rumpy, mebbe, mebbe not.
But that she ain’t there when hubby cops it doesn’t mean she’s innocent, that’s the entire point of this concept of joint enterprise.