The commission, set up in 1997 as an independent body to investigate miscarriages of justice, has appointed former National Crime Squad media relations manager Borris Worral to the new post of head of communications.
Worral is briefed to draw up a two-year comms strategy to raise the commission’s profile with the main public services involved with criminal convictions and with the public through media relations.
The comms department will be supported by the Central Office of Information, the government body that provides PR support to the public sector. Worral said that in the short term he had no plans to use external PR and that he would be the commission’s sole in-house comms officer.
The creation of Worral’s role plugs a gap in the body’s comms that has been managed through temporary secondments from the COI ever since the departure of head of communications Louise Hall just 18 months after the CCSR was created.
Until Worral’s appointment last week, the commission’s other staff had dealt with the press on an ad hoc basis for over two months.
But Professor Graham Zellick, who was appointed to the post of chairman of the commission last month, has since moved communications into a more proactive gear. Worral reports to Zellick and chief executive Jacky Courtney.
‘Our lack of public profile to date has ensured that we have been reasonably safe from bad publicity,’ said Worral. ‘But it has also stopped us from fulfilling two of our mission statements – promoting confidence in the criminal justice system and increasing awareness of the commission as a place to go if you have been a victim of a miscarriage of justice.’