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Streamlined Summary Disclosure

Overview

This guidance applies to any case which is summary only or which, on a reasonable assessment of the case, is likely to remain in the magistrates' court. The amended CPIA Code of Practice applies to all criminal investigations, not just those included in the Transforming Summary Justice programme. Streamlined disclosure therefore applies to all cases including summary domestic violence, overnight cases where the defendant is kept in custody, and youth cases which will remain in the youth court.

Any case file which contains an offence which is indictable only, or is likely not to be suitable for summary trial, must have disclosure prepared in the usual way, by completing the MG6 forms. This includes youth cases that are likely to be considered to be 'grave crimes' and therefore sent to the Crown Court.

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Background

Following the review of summary disclosure, the MG6 forms have been replaced with a Streamlined Disclosure Certificate (SDC) for anticipated not guilty plea (NGAP) cases. This is the case for all summary only cases, and all those which are either way but assessed to be clearly suitable for summary trial.

There will be no requirement to complete a certificate for anticipated guilty plea (GAP) cases. For NGAP and cases where a NG plea is entered to a GAP case, there are two versions of the Streamlined Disclosure Certificate. The first should be used when the police officer believes that there is nothing which is disclosable; the second should be used where a police officer believes some material needs to be disclosed.

However, police officers and prosecutors are reminded that the common law duty under R v DPP ex parte Lee [1999] 2 All ER 737 remains. The declaration on the MG5/Digital Case File (DCF) must be endorsed in the normal way if there is nothing to disclose. The common law duty applies to both GAP and NGAP cases, so if the MG5 is sent to the CPS before the DCF (for example in custody cases), the certificate must be endorsed or the procedure summarised below followed.

To summarise:

  • in every case, irrespective of the anticipated plea,
  • if there is material known to the officer in the case/disclosure officer, for example a key prosecution witness has relevant previous convictions, or a witness has withdrawn his or her statement
  • and this material may assist the defence with the early preparation of their case or at a bail hearing,
  • a MG6 must be prepared, on which a note must be made to advise the prosecutor and
  • a copy of the material provided to the prosecutor, who will disclose it to the defence if he/she thinks it meets the test.

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Anticipated Guilty Plea (GAP) Requirements

In a case where an officer anticipates after applying the Director's Guidance on Charging that a guilty plea will be entered, he/she needs to either:

  • Certify on the MG5/DCF that there is no material that falls to be disclosed under the common law duty to disclose material which might assist the defence with the early preparation of their case or a bail hearing or
  • note such material on the MG5/DCF to bring it to the attention of the prosecutor.

If, exceptionally, that material is sensitive, the sensitive material schedule MG6D (or similar), together with an MG6E, should be used to communicate that to the prosecutor. This/they should be attached to the file in the usual way.

Where material has been identified by an officer, the prosecutor must consider whether it falls to be disclosed. If it does, it must be disclosed accordingly with the IDPC or at court, before the case is heard.

If at the first hearing, the defendant enters a guilty plea, then, subject to any common law duty described above, disclosure of unused material is not triggered. There is no requirement for any further disclosure to the defence.

If, at the first hearing in a GAP court, the defendant enters a not guilty plea, the prosecutor should ask the police to submit any additional material required for an NGAP file as soon as possible. A Streamlined Disclosure Certificate must be completed at this stage regardless of whether any other material is required. 'Routine revelation' should also be provided at this stage; guidance on what should be provided can be found in the Disclosure Manual at 10.8-10.10.

The guidance in section Anticipated Not Guilty Plea (NGAP) Requirements below should then be followed.

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Anticipated Not Guilty Plea (NGAP) Requirements

When preparing the first hearing file, the officer in the case or, if one has been appointed, the disclosure officer, must complete the Streamlined Disclosure Certificate at Annex A. Where the officer believes there is nothing to disclose, he/she should complete the first NGAP version; where he/she thinks there may be something to disclose he/she should complete the second NGAP version. 'Routine revelation' should be provided at the same time.

If there is no material which is sensitive or which might fall to be disclosed as undermining the prosecution case or assisting the defence, the officer should sign the declaration in the relevant section on the 'nothing to disclose' version. If the prosecutor disagrees with that assessment, he/she should endorse the form accordingly and request any material that needs to be disclosed.

The officer should list any relevant material within the box marked 'Schedule of Unused Material'. In the Code, 'relevant' is defined as meaning material 'which appears to the investigator to have some bearing on any offence under investigation or any person being investigated or the surrounding circumstances unless it is incapable of having an impact on the case'.

Each item should be numbered. The description need not be long or detailed, but it must be sufficient to describe the item clearly for the prosecutor reading the certificate, for example 'custody record', 'note of number plate taken by witness' or 'medical notes'. If the unused material is entirely consistent with the prosecution case, nothing more is required.

If CCTV is relevant, it is essential that the description of it is accurate and meaningful. This means that greater detail will be necessary for CCTV, in order to avoid unnecessary applications for disclosure.

If the material is not entirely consistent or may assist the defence, a short description of the reason why that assessment is made should be entered in the box below the listed items at the end of the declaration, e.g. 'the note of the number plate taken by the witness records the prefix as an R, when the defendant's car number plate actually begins with a B'. A copy of that item should then be attached, redacted if necessary. The certificate should be endorsed (in the same box) to the effect that the officer believes redaction is needed and why. If the prosecutor needs an unredacted version, that will be requested.

It is rare for there to be any sensitive unused material in summary cases, but if there is, the officer is required to complete the sensitive material schedule ('Form MG6D' or similar) together with an MG6E, and attach it/them to the file. Any documents should be given an appropriate security marking. Where there is no unused sensitive material, no additional form is required. Additional guidance about sensitive unused material can be found in the Disclosure Manual, and it should be handled in the normal way.

When the prosecutor receives the file, he/she should consider the completed Streamlined Disclosure Certificate and make an assessment as to whether the material identified falls to be disclosed. The prosecutor should endorse this decision on the form. If the prosecutor disagrees with the officer that something needs to be disclosed, the assessment should be edited to that effect. If in a case where there is nothing to disclose, the prosecutor cannot be satisfied on the descriptions, he/she should request further information and/or inspect the document in question.

A copy of the form and any disclosable material (redacted if necessary) should be available to give to the defence, either at the first hearing in the magistrates' court, or with the IDPC if the prosecutor is aware of representation in advance. Whilst the trigger to disclose is a NGAP, the law does not prevent a prosecutor dealing with disclosure at an earlier stage if necessary and appropriate. If disclosure is at court, paper copies may need to be provided if WiFi is not available at the court centre where the case is listed.

For cases involved streamlined forensic reporting, all notes and material available need to be considered for the purposes of common law and streamlined disclosure prior to the first hearing. Once the forensic service provider has completed his/her report, the officer will need to consider the content, and provide an additional Streamlined Disclosure Certificate.

On the rare occasion when the defence produce a defence statement, the prosecutor may request the police to produce an MG6E.

The CPIA Code of Practice and Disclosure Manual must also be complied with. These provide further information on the roles and responsibilities of the police and the prosecution.

Annex A

Download a copy of the Streamlined Disclosure Certificate and MG5 Declaration Form.

 

 

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