In a new guideline released by the UK's Crown Prosecution Service, lawyers have been instructed to avoid labelling people on trial as gang members. They have been instructed to do so only in case there is ample evidence to support that claim.
The document says that lawyers should not prejudice the defendants by labelling them as gang members, reported Daily Mail.
As per the agency, the word ‘gang’ has a negative connotation. The guideline said, “Using the term gang inappropriately risks casting the net of liability beyond that which can be established. It also disproportionately affects minority ethnic people”.
But the agency also said that if there is any admissible evidence to establish the membership of defendants with any gang then the case should reflect the gravity of the criminal act.
The word ‘gang’ is defined as the activities of a group that has a minimum of three members. It should also have one or more characteristics that can make the members identify as part of the same group.
Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC stated that the lawyers at his agency know the severity of gang-related crimes. However, speaking of their responsibility as prosecutors, he said that it is their duty to not suggest gang involvement of the defendants if there is no evidence.
The Crown Prosecution Service latest guideline has been issued to address the problem of drug dealers starting relationships with women so that they can sell drugs from their homes. This has increased the women getting groomed by drug dealers.
Speaking about the issue, Claire Lindley from the agency said that the evidence behind the involvement of women in drug dealership should be seen to understand if they were forcefully made to commit crimes or were groomed to do them.
She said, “'Criminal gangs often prey on vulnerable people – some are forced into debt bondage, or face being stabbed or shot if they go to the police or a rival gang.”
Describing the instances where women have been sexually assaulted or beaten, Claire indicated that some girls may be involved in criminal activities but if they are groomed or forced into it then they may avoid charges.
The Crown Prosecution Service is the agency which conducts criminal prosecution in England and Wales.
Their main responsibility includes to provide legal advice to the investigation agencies on whether a criminal suspect should face charges or not.