In my experience, both as a barrister and judge, joint enterprise is a vital element in prosecuting cases against a number of defendants in a criminal trial.

Obviously, it needs to be clearly defined so that mere spectators to a crime are not convicted and a degree of participation must always be proved.

Where a number of defendants are involved in an assault, it’s often very difficult for prosecutors to separate individual responsibility at the outset, so why not allow the trial process to deal with the issues as they arise?

There is also a deterrent aspect to this. People who allow themselves to become involved in a public display of violence need to realise that there is a risk that they may stand convicted of a serious crime as a result. Mob-handed attacks on individuals are particularly abhorrent by their very nature.

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