Urgent Review of the Joint Enterprise Legislation

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2016 National Black Members' Conference
21 September 2015
Carried as Amended

Conference acknowledges the hard work that the National Black Members Committee (NBMC) has undertaken on the Joint Enterprise Legislation in conjunction with organisations such as Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association (JENGBA). The frequent usage of this piece of legislation remains controversial especially when the House of Commons Justice Select Committee called for urgent review as recently as December 2014. The Select Committee asserted that the Law Commission should review the common law doctrine of joint enterprise in murder cases as a matter of urgency.

Conference welcomes the House of Commons Justice Select Committee call for an urgent review of the Joint Enterprise Legislation. According to the evidence presented to the House of Common Select Committee – Fourth Report of Session 2014-2015, a large proportion of those convicted of joint enterprise offences are young Black men, of which 37.2% are serving long prison sentences for joint enterprise offences and are Black/Black British. This is eleven times the proportion of Black/Black British people in the general population and almost three times as many as in the overall prison population.

Conference is concerned that there is also a much higher proportion of mixed race prisoners convicted of joint enterprise offences than there are in the general prison population (15.5% compared to 3.9%). Janet Cunliffe from JENGBA in her evidence to the Select Committee said that an even higher proportion of people convicted of joint enterprise who were in contact with them are from the Black community (approximately 80% and working class). According to the Guardian News Paper, between 2005 and 2013, almost 500 people are thought to have been convicted of murder as Secondary parties in joint enterprise cases. Many were recorded as gang-related attacks, a very worrying feature for Trade Unions is that such a legal doctrine could be used against Black Trade Unionists engaging in peaceful protests in volatile industrial situations. Figures show that Black people are 4 times more likely to be charged under the Joint Enterprise Legislation.

Therefore, Conference calls upon National Black Members Committee (NBMC) to work with the National Executive Committee (NEC), and the Labour Link to take the following actions:

1)Lobby the MPs for an urgent independent review into the Joint Enterprise Legislation and its frequent usage by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) targeting Young People especially from the Black Community.

2)Seek to work with organisations such as JENGBA to organise publicity events, lobby MPs to influence and seek to bring forward Joint Enterprise Legislation that is reflective of a progressive society in the 21st century.