Getting In Touch About a Case
WE ARE UNABLE TO DEAL WITH APPLICATIONS FOR ASSISTANCE BY TELEPHONE, DIRECTLY WITH THE PRISONER OR INDIRECTLY WITH FAMILY MEMBERS OR SUPPORTERS. ALL ENQUIRIES SHOULD BE MADE IN WRITING
Please note that due to resource constraints and a high volume of applications we cannot give positive or negative screening decisions on cases on a rolling basis. Prisoners who have applied to us should assume the answer is that we are unable to assist until and unless we write indicating that we are able to take further steps to screen the case, and should continue to seek help elsewhere. All applications will be stored electronically in compliance with Data Protection law, and documents will be returned to the applicant with a covering letter to this effect.
There are many more people out there asking for our help than there are resources at APPEAL to provide the help needed. We have received well over a thousand requests for assistance since we started as a charity. We see evidence every day that demonstrates that this country’s criminal justice system is broken and what is perhaps worse, the system is in denial about being broken. As a result, innocent people are being convicted and are then denied access to a hearing in which to present evidence that shows their conviction is unsafe.
APPEAL’s work is largely paid for by restricted grants that cover certain types of cases but not others. For this reason, we have different criteria for how we consider men’s cases and women’s cases.
We prioritise cases as follows:
Prisoners (all genders) who maintain they are actually innocent of the crime(s) for which they have been convicted. We do not take on cases on points of law or unfair trials - although we recognise that these are also miscarriages of justice - our focus is on those who maintain factual innocence of a crime.
Prisoners who are currently serving a custodial sentence with 2+ years left to serve in prison from the time of writing.
A prisoner’s case must also fit into a strategic priority area. Some of our current areas of interest are disclosure failings, and cases involving flawed forensic and scientific evidence.
Women's Justice Initiative
Women prisoners who are:
seeking to appeal their prison sentences for minor, non-violent offences
sentenced to a prison, when they should have been sentenced to a psychiatric facility, or whose mental health was ill considered at trial
convicted of a crime that was in fact an accident or caused by natural causes
convicted of a crime where their actions can be proven to have been committed in self-defence, or in response to a history of abuse at the hands of the victim of the crime.
We only consider women’s cases where custodial sentences have been given.
If your case does not fit into the above categories, unfortunately we will not be able to help.
However, even if a case fits these criteria, the volume of requests we receive means that it may be a long time (months or years) before we have the capacity to screen a case or have the resources to take it on. Due to the level of funding we currently receive, APPEAL has only a small staff team, of two lawyers and three caseworkers. This team works on a very small number of cases because we have to make sure we can spend enough time investigating and presenting each case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission and/or the Court of Appeal to achieve true justice for the prisoners we do elect to represent.
We do not take on cases for privately paid fees.
Writing to us
To be able to consider a case, we need to hear directly from the person seeking to appeal or apply to the Commission, whether or not they are in prison. We only accept requests for assistance in writing, by post. Letters can be sent - marked Rule 39 - to our postal address at:
APPEAL, The Green House, 244-254 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9DA
After the person seeking to appeal submits a first letter of application for assistance, we are not be able to reply to further correspondence unless we invite the person to send more information.
We are not able to discuss applications for our assistance by telephone, either with prisoners or their families and friends.
People who have applied to us for assistance should continue to seek legal assistance elsewhere in order to make sure they do not miss any deadlines in the case and prevent them from being later criticised by the Court of Appeal for not acting promptly upon any newly discovered evidence. Applicants for our assistance who have not been invited to become clients of APPEAL should place no reliance upon APPEAL in the conduct of their case.
We deeply regret the fact that we are not able to help more people, as we know there are so many cases which have been unjustly decided, but until we receive additional funding, the demand for our services as legal representatives will continue to outstrip our ability to meet those demands.
Although we are not able to offer most of the people who apply to us for help with the assistance that they need, we wish them all the best in their quest for justice.