Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association

Common Law used against common people that makes no common sense. We are a grassroots campaign, run by volunteers. As with all grassroots campaigns the work behind opposing the might of the legal establishment has been an uphill battle.

It was a role taken on mainly by women (mothers, sisters, aunties and cousins but also heartbroken dads and uncles) who will not rest while their loved ones are serving mandatory life sentences for crimes committed by others.

JENGbA was created by the legal establishment, it was not a campaign that came out of nowhere; it was precisely because the use of joint Enterprise was unjust, unfair and discriminatory towards working class and BAME communities that we were forced to form JENGbA.

From our kitchens and meeting rooms we have focused tirelessly on this campaign.

Significant Contribution Bill

Joint Enterprise (Significant Contribution) Bill

Kim Johnson, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, presented her private members’ bill – the Joint Enterprise (Significant Contribution) Bill – on Wednesday 6 December 2023

Read more here

Read the debate here

The Bill seeks “to amend the Accessories and Abettors Act 1861 to provide that only a person who directly commits, or who makes a significant contribution to the commission of, an offence may be held criminally liable”.Supported by MPs Sir Robert Neill, Barry Sheerman, John McDonnell, Paula Barker, Rachel Hopkins, Kate Osamor, Liz Saville Roberts, Kenny MacAskill and Chris Stephens, the Bill receives its Second Reading on Friday 2 February 2024.  

Read The Bill Here

Crown Prosecution Service Joint Enterprise Pilot 2023: Data Analysis

29 September 2023

Read here

Thank You!

Changing The Law

Time to end the injustice of joint enterprise

Kim Johnson MP on why a simple change to the law could keep many innocent people out of prison:

I became aware of joint enterprise after watching Jimmy McGovern’s shocking and powerful drama Common in 2014.

This is the legal doctrine, technically known as the law of complicity, that has resulted in people being convicted of very serious crimes, including murder, despite someone else committing the act itself.

Joint enterprise is used to prosecute someone who intentionally “assists or encourages” an offence – and if found guilty, they are punished as harshly as if they had been the principal offender, which can lead to life imprisonment.

I recognise that in some situations this is entirely reasonable. Most people would agree that an armed robber at a bank heist gone wrong, for example, can be deemed as culpable as their partner who actually shot the cashier, because they make a significant contribution to the crime by carrying or supplying a gun and threatening the cashier. These cases are rare.

But the problem, according to many legal experts, is that joint enterprise is used in a much wider way, often convicting people who have made no significant contribution to a crime.

Since being elected in 2019, I’ve met with JENGbA – Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association – a grass root campaign set up in 2010. They are in contact with over 1,000 families of people imprisoned as a result of joint enterprise laws, with a disproportionate number of young black teens – who have been wrongly convicted under a method of joint enterprise that was used to convict people who foresaw a crime but did not intend to join in.

The more I speak with families and learn about joint enterprise, the more outraged I become.

In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that the law had indeed taken a “wrong turn” for over 30 years. The Court rightly restored the proper law of intention so that those who intend to commit or assist a serious crime can be properly convicted – a “moment of genuine legal history”, according to the BBC.

But any optimism that this would lead to meaningful change was short-lived.
Research by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies identifies that the judgment has had little to no effect on charges or convictions.

And the Court of Appeal decided that prisoners whose juries had been directed to consider foresight, rather than intention, should not have a retrial.

Many of these people are serving life sentences for a murder that they did not either commit, intend to assist, nor share any intention for it to happen.

My Labour colleague Barry Sheerman, who co-chairs the Miscarriages of Justice APPG in Parliament, tried to change this last year. His proposed law would make it easier to appeal convictions when there has been a material change in the law, especially as a result of a legal error, such as there was in joint enterprise.

He rightly recognised that ordinary people can foresee that a crime might take place – but thatdoes not make them complicit.

Unfortunately, the Government blocked this important initiative by depriving it of parliamentary time.

Since 2016, there is a new legal problem where juries are deliberately not told to consider the contribution a person made to the crime. This absence of a legal direction risks convicting people who make no significant contribution to a crime.

It has been used to convict young people seen fighting, but not with the victim, young people who are not present at the scene, women who have no control over their boyfriend’s conduct and young people who listen to certain kinds of music, where trials focus on character and culture and not contribution to a crime.

For some, this means they are serving a life sentence for an offence to which they made no significant contribution and where the minimum term, before they can apply for parole, is longer than they have been alive.

Campaigners have long argued that joint enterprise is also used in a racist way by prosecutors.

Ministers admit that “convictions based on joint enterprise appear from some studies to affect BAME groups disproportionately” and that “there is some concern that the existing case law does operate in a harsh way on certain young black boys and men”.

With the help of Liberty, JENGbA launched legal action last year against the Crown Prosecution Service over its refusal to collect data on the use of joint enterprise.

Under pressure, the CPS agreed to a pilot study of six months of data-collection – and, in September, released the results.

As anticipated, the data showed that joint enterprise disproportionately targeted racialised minorities, especially young black men.

In fact, black people are 16 times more likely than white people to be charged with homicide or attempted homicide under joint enterprise, according to the data.

Felicity Gerry KC, who argued the 2016 case in the Supreme Court, is worried that the law has now taken a “second wrong turn”.

She told me that the key issue is that people are going to prison, often for very long sentences, despite not making any significant contribution to a crime.

Today in Parliament, I will take the first step to change this when I introduce my Joint Enterprise (Significant Contribution) Bill, which has been drafted by legal experts for JENGbA.

The “assist or encourage” test is a simplified version of the words “aid, abet, counsel or procure” in the Accessories and Abettors Act of 1861.

Gloria Morrison from JENGbA told me that, sometimes, simply cycling towards and away from an event has been enough for prosecutors to prove “encouragement”.

My Bill seeks to amend the 1861 Act to clarify that someone must make a “significant contribution” to a crime to be found guilty under joint enterprise.

This would allow us to separate those who should be long-term prisoners from those who should not. It also compliments recent Government measures to reduce the prison population.

Of course, what counts as significant will be up to the courts, but the point is that the level of a defendant’s contribution to a crime would have to be taken into consideration, which doesn’t happen currently.

It’s not easy to change the law like this if the Government is opposed to it, which is why I’m working with JENGbA, Gerry and many others to build the strongest and broadest campaign possible.

Young people’s lives shouldn’t be destroyed by incarceration for crimes for which they made no significant contribution. A miscarriage of law is still a miscarriage of justice and I hope to rectify this long-suffering legal problem with my Bill.

I’m appealing to trade unions and other progressive organisations to help fund this campaign, so we can produce high-quality materials and organise high-impact events that put real pressure on ministers.

Some unions, such as the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, already have policy in place to challenge the injustices of joint enterprise.

But we need support from across the movement, from local branches to national executives, if we’re going to maximise our chances of making this crucial legislative change.

Please get in touch by emailing me on if you want to help.

• Kim Johnson is the Labour MP for Liverpool, Riverside

  • Legal Win against CPS

    CPS will now collect JE data

    The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has agreed to a pilot scheme to monitor data on the age, race, sex and disability of those prosecuted under the joint enterprise doctrine after a legal challenge from campaign group JENGbA, represented by Liberty.

    Read more on Liberty 
  • The Usual Suspects

    Second Edition

    The Usual Suspects uses national data to assess the use of joint enterprise laws in prosecutions for serious violence in England and Wales over the last fifteen years.

    Download the publication 
  • UN Working Group of Experts

    Human Rights

    UK: Discrimination against people of African descent is structural, institutional and systemic, say UN experts.

    Read more 
  • Channel 4

    My Son’s Life Sentence

    Dean Winston was sentenced to life in 2014. His co-defendant Kyle Sober-Froud admitted to causing the fatal stab wound, but Dean was also sentenced to life.

    For A Murder SOMEONE ELSE Confessed To 

Other news and events


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'Kim Johnson: MP inspired by TV show to launch bid to reform law'

Read on BBC News 

'The more I speak with families about joint enterprise the more outraged I become'

Read more on The Justice Gap - Jon Robins

Read more on Kim's website - Kim Johnson MP 


Liberty is taking legal action against the Crown Prosecution Service and the Ministry of Justice over the ‘discredited’ joint enterprise law. But what is it and what is Liberty’s case about? Read on here

New monitoring of joint enterprise. What’s been agreed?

By Helen Mills -  Thursday, 16 March 2023

Last month the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) agreed to collect data about secondary liability (so called ‘joint enterprise’) prosecutions.

This move was in response to legal action brought by JENGbA, represented by a legal team at Liberty. Their case drew on evidence established over several years including the Centre’s published research and data gathering about the disproportional and discriminatory practices involved in such prosecutions.

Read on here


Inside Time: CPS to monitor the race of joint enterprise defendants

Friday, 24 February 2023

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has agreed to begin monitoring the ethnicity of people prosecuted under joint enterprise laws, following a legal challenge brought by campaigners.

Read on here


Centre For Crime and Justice: Welcome news on Joint Enterprise

Friday, 17 February 2023

News that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will set up a pilot scheme to record data on the age, race, sex and disability of those prosecuted under the joint enterprise doctrine is a welcome, if small, step in the right direction.

Read on here


John Crilly Blog

John Crilly blog on JE and our Justice system. How can YOU be convicted of MURDER with no evidence? Joint Enterprise! a judge-made doctrine which allows for two or more people to be held equally accountable for the actions of another. CLICK HERE

Resistance TV

Miscarriages of Justice: The Joint Enterprise conundrum With Guests Gloria Morrison: Co-founder of JENGbA and Becky Clarke: Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. In 2015 the Supreme Court determined that the law of joint Enterprise had been wrongly interpreted for 30 years, yet people convicted under that discredited law are still languishing in prison. It was used to convict marginalised and vulnerable defendants predominately from BAME and working-class communities resulting in numerous miscarriages of justice. With little or no actual evidence of involvement against them, many of these defendants were given mandatory life sentences for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Watch on you tube here

Stories of injustice

Women in prison for life for violent crimes they did not commit, JENGbA research report reveals Joint Enterprise Women, A report released today (16th November) written by academics at Manchester Metropolitan University reveals new evidence about the number and experiences of women in prison under unjust laws of complicity known as joint Enterprise.

The Rhyming Guide to Joint Enterprise

Potent Whisper take on Joint Enterprise watch the video here click here Written & performed by Potent Whisper. Music by 3ss3nce and Tone-O.

A City Seen: Dangerous Associations

Dangerous Associations highlights the issues young people and families are facing because of this law. The film is about Joint Enterprise, which is a Victorian law that has re-emerged in England and Wales enabling the conviction by association of multiple individuals for one offence. It is often used to target groups of young people. The film is preceded by an introduction by Gary Younge - Author, Journalist and Professor of Sociology at The University of Manchester. Read more here

Accessorial Liability after Jogee

In R v Jogee [2016] UKSC 8, the UK Supreme Court fundamentally changed the law of accessorial liability when it decided that the principles of joint Enterprise had been misinterpreted for over 30 years. The Court abolished the head of liability known as parasitic accessory liability and replaced it with (re-stated) principles of assisting and encouraging. The judgment, widely reported and hailed as a 'moment of genuine legal history', sent shock waves around England and Wales as well as other common law jurisdictions that still operate 'parasitic' or 'extended' joint Enterprise principles, and raised the hopes of hundreds of prisoners here and elsewhere who had been convicted under joint Enterprise. This collection examines Jogee, subsequent Court of Appeal decisions and case law from other jurisdictions that re-considered their own joint Enterprise principles in the wake of Jogee. Its chapters are authored by scholars and practitioners, all experts in the area of complicity, but each with their own experiences and views on the issues under debate. The result is the first comprehensive analysis of the implications of Jogee. The present volume is not just a source of reference for academics and practitioners; its aim is more ambitious in that it seeks to chart the way forward and to suggest solutions to problems created by Jogee for criminal law theory and practice. Read more here

Joint Enterprise is a working class injustice – the law must change

On Tuesday 11th February, members of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign were proud to attend and support a public meeting of the Joint Enterprise – Not Guilty by Association (JENGbA) campaign in the House of Commons. The joint Enterprise law says that a secondary party in any offence can be prosecuted as if they were the principal offender. Legal experts told the meeting that, until 2016, the law applied in cases where the prosecution could prove that the secondary party had ‘foresight’ of the crime. If they could show that a person connected to the main offender thought that a crime might be committed, then it was possible to build a joint Enterprise case. In effect, the law allows one person to be prosecuted for somebody else’s wrongdoing. Read more here


KILLING THE LAW is a documentary film about families who have fought to change the law and free their loved-ones from prison after they were convicted of murder and given life sentences under the controversial part of English law referred to as “Joint Enterprise” Read more here

Please Donate

JENGbA is a not-for-profit run organisation. We are not lawyers so we cannot offer legal advice although we may be able to signpost you in the right direction. We are campaigners that work on a voluntary basis offering support to families and friends of those who believe they have suffered a wrongful conviction under Joint Enterprise. It is because we are a campaign and support group that we tell people that JENGbA is not an innocence project. We rely on the generosity of our donors and volunteer ms, without whose support we could not do the important work we do. Every penny donated goes to fund the support of serving prisoners , their families and our campaigning on their behalf.




Next meeting is on Thursday 15th December 2022 at the new office Resource for London, Office 4, 1A, 4th Floor, 356 Holloway Rd, London N7 6PA and on Zoom for those who can't attend in person. Meeting will start at 6pm in room 2.1. Please email for the Zoom link to the meeting or if you wish to attend. We will be holding our Christmas get together after so please join us.

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