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Additional Notes: Specific Evidential Points

1. Identification evidence

Where identity is not admitted, sufficient evidence to prove this will be a key element of the prosecution case. Although silence during interview does not challenge an allegation of involvement, it does not remove the necessity for proper identification by the prosecution where this is not admitted.

However, supervisors or Evidence Review Officers and prosecutors should ensure that identity procedures triggered by paragraphs 3.12 and 3.13 of PACE Code of Practice D are undertaken only when justified and necessary. Full reasons for requesting identification procedures should be noted on the MG3.

2. Identification through scientific evidence

In any case in which material evidence against a person consists of a DNA or fingerprint or other forensic analysis, confirmation of the match report, accompanied by other supporting evidence in the case, or positive fingerprint identification will suffice for the purposes of making a charging decision and for the magistrates’ court initial hearing.

Preliminary information on finger print lifts must indicate the location and position of any identified finger prints and their significance. Also notice should be given of any other fingerprints lifted and not belonging to the suspect; whether these have been identified and if so, whether the persons concerned have been eliminated from the enquiry. A full evidential statement detailing the analysis will only be required if the case proceeds to trial and aspects of the report are challenged by the defence.

Where a controlled substance has been identified through the use of a drug testing kit or in the case of cannabis by an experienced police officer, only where the identification is challenged will further scientific evidence be obtained after charge. The use of this equipment should be mentioned in the summary.

3. Dealing with medical evidence

Subject to the following paragraph, in any case involving an allegation of assault (whether common assault or occasioning actual bodily harm) which is suitable for sentencing in a magistrates’ court, evidence of a medical practitioner will not be required.

In the case of an offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm (Section 47 Offences against the Person Act 1861) a medical statement will only be required where the injuries can only be proved through the interpretation of medical records or X rays by a medical practitioner. Such a statement will only be required where, during interview, the suspect does not accept the nature and extent of injuries caused.

Otherwise good reliable eye-witness evidence or good quality photographs accompanied by descriptions of the extent of the injuries will suffice for other summary assault cases.

However, where the victim of an assault has sought medical attention, this must be revealed to the prosecutor unless a statement from the medical practitioner forms part of the prosecution case. When medical statements are taken, a copy of any medical notes should be obtained.

4. Summaries of Visually Recorded Evidence

Generally there is no substitute for the prosecutor or police decision maker viewing the CCTV recording or photograph, as many times as is necessary, in order that an assessment can be made of the evidence it provides; the conduct of the suspect(s); the visual quality of the recording; and any interpretation that is necessary (e.g. is it likely that a claim of self defence could be sustained). The prosecutor or police decision maker will also have to consider the images viewed alongside other relevant evidence not recorded on camera; its overall effect on the conduct of the case and its likely impact on a jury or justices.

It is not always possible to view the visually recorded evidence during the initial period of detention and this can cause delay in cases that are otherwise ready to charge and could proceed to court to be dealt with the next day or for an application to remand into custody.

Where it is not practicable for the relevant evidence contained in a visual recording to be viewed the prosecutor or police decision maker may consider accepting a summary of what can be seen on a visual recording if satisfied that:

  • the summary is a factual account that has been prepared by an officer who has viewed the recorded material;
  • the images displayed are of sufficient quality to clearly identify the suspect;
  • where practicable, the visually recorded material was shown to the suspect in interview and any response recorded.

The prosecutor or police decision maker must then exercise judgement taking the following factors in to account:

  • does the recorded material (based on the summary provided) taken together with any witness statements obtained provide a continuous account of the alleged offence?
  • is the recorded material consistent with other evidence available?
  • has the suspect put forward a defence which requires an interpretation of the recorded material?
  • has the suspect put forward, as a defence, actions that are not referred to in the summary?

The summary provided should be accepted unless the prosecutor or police decision maker concludes the charging decision cannot properly be made without viewing the material.

The summary should be provided in report form on the MG3 or on a separate report attached to the MG3 in a CPS charge decision case or on the MG5 in a police charge decision case and should be a clear factual account of what can be observed, specifying the actions of the suspect and any relevant reaction of others present. It should provide a clear description of the suspect including clothes worn.

It should also include a clear reference point for the start and end of the relevant parts of the recording and indicate the extent to which other parts of the recorded material have been viewed. The prosecutor making the charging decision will make a note on the MG3 that the visual evidence has not been viewed prior to the making of the charging decision.

5. Prepared defence statements at police interviews

Prepared statements not providing any kind of admission are not capable of forming part of the prosecution case and should not be recorded in the summary or form part of the prosecution’s case presentation. However, the fact one was made should be mentioned in the summary. A copy of any statement provided by the defence should be retained (as unused material) for the purposes of cross examination in the event of an alternative explanation being offered at trial.

6. Drugs Intervention Programme (testing on arrest or charge)

Although it is not strictly ‘evidence’, the DIP test results provide useful information which may assist the court in deciding whether to grant bail, with or without conditions, and in establishing the level of the report required for sentencing purposes. It is not necessary to attach the Form DT2 but the Police Report must indicate if a test was performed, if the offence is a trigger offence and the result. It should also state the nature of the drug indicated in a positive test.

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