Two separate rape cases being investigated by the Metropolitan Police have recently been dropped at court due to serious failings in disclosure procedures. Following the principles of "Record, Retain and Reveal" may well have led to the cases being dropped well before trial.
Disclosure principles are governed by the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA). The rules as laid out there are supplemented by various guidance, such as the Disclosure Manual and the Attorney Generals Guidelines on Disclosure 2013. Criminal disclosure is further informed by best practice emanating from stated cases, probably the most notable being Olu, Wilson and Brooks  and R v H and C [2004).
Whilst the above suggest that there is a lot of information and guidance impacting on the role of the disclosure officer, the basic principles of disclosure are straightforward. As outlined in The Code of Practice under Sect 23 (1) of CPIA, the first responsibility is to identify any unused (i.e. not served on the defence as part of the prosecution case) material coming into the possession or control of the prosecution that may be relevant to the case. That responsibility effectively falls on all those involved in the investigation, whether they be the officer in charge, an investigator or a defined disclosure officer.
It is for the disclosure officer to examine all identified relevant material and to apply what is known as the disclosure test - in other words, to further identify which of that material might undermine the prosecution case, or might assist the defence. And then, crucially, the disclosure officer has a responsibility to inform the prosecutor of the existence of such material.
In the two rape cases concerned, it appears that the prosecutor was not informed of the existence of material that passed the disclosure test, and therefore the prosecutor naturally did not inform the defence. Indeed, from the reports of the case, the material concerned (phone records) were so damaging as to fatally flaw both cases.
Whilst proper training is an essential part of understanding disclosure, the Code of Practice also makes it clear that disclosure officers should have sufficient experience and authority to be able to properly carry out their role. As these cases have shown, following the rules of disclosure in a criminal case is extremely important, as proper adherence to the principles of disclosure will minimise the chance of an innocent person being convicted, or a victim and their family not seeing justice.
We have trainers who are very experienced in this area, and can call on such experience of dealing with disclosure issues in crimes such as murder and rape to inform our training.
Should you want to know anymore about the training we can offer, please look here. You can also email us at email@example.com, and we will be very pleased to go through your requirements and create a bespoke training session to meet your needs.