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The Crown Prosecution Service is the government department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales.

As the principal prosecuting authority in England and Wales, we are responsible for:

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Decision to Charge

Once the Police have completed their investigations, they will refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on how to proceed. We will then make a decision on whether a suspect should be charged, and what that charge should be.

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CPS decides no charges can be brought against members of Enfield Crime Squad

22/12/2010

The Crown Prosecution Service has today decided that no charges will be brought against any member of the Enfield Crime Squad after allegations that they assaulted and abused suspects and mis-appropriated their property.

The CPS Special Crime Division carefully reviewed files of evidence submitted by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and the Metropolitan Police Service's Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) in relation to 15 members of Enfield Crime Squad.

The evidence gathered by the IPCC related to an allegation that in November 2008, during the course of a search of a house for drugs, members of the squad assaulted and abused two men in their custody. The men claimed they had been beaten and one alleged an officer attempted to hold his head under water.

Simon Clements, head of the CPS Special Crime Division, said: "Both men provided statements to the IPCC but their accounts substantially contradicted each other and their identification of the officers allegedly involved was clearly wrong. Their claims were further undermined by the lack of medical evidence to support claims of repeated assault. In the absence of reliable, corroborative evidence there is no realistic prospect of a conviction against any officer.

"Put simply, events could not have happened as the two men described them."

The evidence submitted by the DPS included an allegation that in June 2008, officers used excessive force to stop a stolen car. There were also allegations that between 2008 and 2009, officers took suspects' property such as electrical goods and cars, including a Mercedes, for their personal use.

Mr Clements said: "I looked very carefully at the evidence submitted by the DPS and concluded that in no instance was there sufficient evidence to reach the criminal standard for prosecution.

"In particular I considered whether a number of officers could be charged with misconduct in public office for using excessive force when detaining a disqualified driver in a stolen car.

"The driver of the stolen car would not assist the DPS investigation and the officers justified their approach by saying they had been told the driver was dangerous and had a history of carrying weapons and violence towards police officers. In those circumstances it was impossible to prove that the force used was not proportionate or reasonable."

Speaking about the allegations relating to suspects property, Mr Clements said: "The squad was also accused of misusing a system that allows suspects to disclaim ownership of property found in their possession. From reviewing the evidence, I found this system had been used to circumvent formal police procedures for the seizure and proper disposal of criminal property.

"The officers said they believed they were seizing stolen property or property obtained using criminal proceeds, and understood that the Proceeds of Crime Act allowed them to do so. They said their approach was condoned and supported by their managers. There was no evidence that the seized items were put to officers personal use, rather than deployed in police-related activities.

"At the request of the CPS, the DPS interviewed a number of the squad's senior managers. While not confirming knowledge of specific actions, the managers accepted they had been generally aware of what was happening. Without being able to prove any specific knowledge, the managers could not be prosecuted.

"Their evidence also means that we could not charge the officers with theft because, given the open way their actions took place within the police station, we would not be able to prove they acted dishonestly. For the same reason they could not be charged with misconduct in public office as recent case law shows where the substance of the allegation under consideration is the dishonest appropriation of property, we would need to prove they had acted dishonestly to prove that offence too.

"It is clear that internal police procedures were flouted and breached on a regular basis. But we cannot prosecute members of a squad unless we can show to the criminal standard that they acted dishonestly."

This case has been very carefully reviewed by experienced lawyers within the CPS Special Crime Division including the head of the division. The papers were also sent to a senior QC with unrivalled experience in the law relating to misconduct by police officers. Counsel concurred with the decision reached by the Special Crime Division.

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. A full file of evidence was received from the IPCC at the end of July 2009 and a full file of evidence was received from the MPSs Directorate of Professional Standards in September 2009.   Following the submissions of these files the CPS requested that further evidence be sought, and further interviews be conducted so that we could be sure we had enough information to be able to reach a proper decision.  In addition the CPS sought advice from experienced counsel in October 2010 which was received in December.
  2. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  3. The DPP has set out what the public can expect from the CPS in the Core Quality Standards document published in March 2010.
  4. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). These are organised into 12 Groups, plus CPS London, each overseen by Group Chair, a senior CCP. In addition there are four specialised national divisions: Central Fraud Group, Counter-Terrorism, Organised Crime and Special Crime. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales.
  5. The CPS employs around 8,316 people and prosecuted 982,731 cases with a conviction rate of 86.8% in the magistrates' courts and 80.7% in the Crown Court in 2009-20010. Further information can be found on the CPS website
  6. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media