New Code for Crown Prosecutors

16/11/2004

A new Code for Crown Prosecutors is announced by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Ken Macdonald, QC, said the new Code for Crown Prosecutors published today reflects the Crown Prosecution Service coming of age, with the confidence to take its place at the centre of the criminal justice system.

 

Mr Macdonald said the new Code - the document which sets out for prosecutors the general principles to be applied when making decisions about prosecutions - takes into account far reaching changes in the role of Crown Prosecutors in the 21st century.

 

Thames Valley Chief Crown Prosecutor, Baljit Ubhey, said: "I welcome this new edition of the Code, which is not only fundamental to the way in which we conduct our core business, but allows everyone - criminal justice partners and the public in Thames Valley,  alike - to see and understand the basis upon which our decisions are made."

 

The role of prosecutors in the CPS has changed since the last edition of the Code, said the DPP. Mr Macdonald said: "The new Code represents the shared vision of the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, and myself that they have a greater and more influential part to play at every stage of the prosecution process."

 

The most significant change in the Code reflects the new role played by the CPS in statutory charging, where Crown Prosecutors, rather than the police, will normally decide whether or not to charge a suspect and will determine the appropriate charge or charges.

 

As well as the charging initiative, other key developments which are reflected in the Code include:

        -New public interest factors;

        -Developing a role in sentencing and seeking post-conviction orders such as Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs);

        -Alternatives to prosecution such as conditional cautioning

        -Re-starting a prosecution (double jeopardy).

  

When reviewing cases, prosecutors only look at the public interest stage if they are satisified there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. The Code lists some common public interest factors for and against prosecution and new factors have been included.

 

Mr Macdonald said: "The new public interest factors in favour of prosecution take into account changes in the law, for example, that a conviction is likely to result in a confiscation or any other order.

 

"And we have added a new factor relating to children to highlight the importance of this factor in certain cases. For example, many domestic violence cases involve attacks in the presence of, or in close proximity to, a child.

 

"We have also taken into account community concerns; one public interest factor in favour of prosecution which was included previously is that the offence, although not serious in itself, is widespread in the area where it was committed. We have now added a factor that a prosecution would have a significant positive impact on maintaining community confidence."

 

The Code was last revised in October 2000 and the Attorney General announced a review in March 2004, following a number of statutory and policy developments. The review was targeted on specific issues, rather than reconsidering every aspect of the Code as occurred in 2000. A significant number of changes have been made. However, the fundamental evidential and considerations have not been changed

 

Mr Macdonald said: "The response rate was impressive and it was clear from those responses that the Code is a document of considerable interest and significance to many people, and not just prosecutors.

 

"I would like to thank everyone who responded to the consultation exercise. Every single suggestion was considered. The result is an updated Code that reflects a modern, forward thinking, prosecution service."