Thursday, 18 July 2013

Joint Enterprise Made Simple by Joseph Appiah (age 17) – HMYOI Wetherby

Joe's article was first published in Inside Time's March 2012 issue. Joe is one of JENGbA's Inside Campaigners...
Joe Appiah
I am writing to inform and explain about the Joint Enterprise law. Until the publicity in early January I’m quite sure the majority of people had never heard of Joint Enterprise. Joint Enterprise is a power that can be used by prosecutors to charge and possibly convict a group of people regardless of whether they are guilty of the actual crime committed. The law has been in force for a long time but has been extensively used in the last few years as a means of combating ‘gang related’ murders. Under the Joint Enterprise law you can be convicted even if you were not at the scene of the crime, for calling someone on the phone who is in the area of the crime, for being with someone before or after they have committed the crime, or for even knowing that some sort of crime may take place! Although you may be at home in bed, many miles away from where the crime is committed, there is still a possibility that you can be convicted and sent to prison for life under Joint Enterprise.

How can the Joint Enterprise law in its present form be just? If you commit a crime you will be arrested, prosecuted and punished on the basis of what you did. But if you play a lesser part or no part at all why should you be tarred with the same brush and receive the same sentence as the person who committed the crime? I am currently serving life with a 12 year tariff for murder under Joint Enterprise. I have six co-defendants who are also serving sentences when the victim died from a single stab wound from one person. The culprit was clearly seen on CCTV committing the murder and was easily identifiable. Yes, we all set out to cause disorder as a group but someone acted on impulse and committed the murder, so why should we all be held responsible if our intentions were never the same as the murderer?

This law must be changed as Joint Enterprise is a prime example of injustice at work in this country.