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New Code for Crown Prosecutors issued

22/02/2010

Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, today issued a clarified and updated edition of The Code for Crown Prosecutors (the Code).

Changes to the Code, which sets out the principles that prosecutors must follow when they decide whether or not to prosecute, include:

  • A clearer explanation of the public interest factors tending in favour of and against prosecution;
  • A clearer explanation of how the public interest stage of the Full Code Test is applied;
  • Prosecutors having a discretion to stop a prosecution in the public interest, in exceptional circumstances, before all of the evidence is available;
  • A fuller section explaining the use of out-of-court disposals for both adults and youths;
  • Prosecutors being able to conduct pre-trial witness interviews when it is needed to assess the reliability of a witness' evidence or better understand complex evidence.

Keir Starmer QC said: "The Code is a core document for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and an invaluable tool for ensuring that the right principles are applied fairly and consistently when making our decisions in every case. These changes will help everyone understand how prosecutors make decisions, underpinning our commitment to openness at every stage of the prosecution process."

This is the first edition of the Code issued by Mr Starmer and reflects changes to legislation and practice since the previous Code was issued in 2004. It complements his Public Prosecution Service: Setting the Standard and Core Quality Standards documents. Together, these publications form the basis of his vision for a fair, effective and modern prosecution service.

Mr Starmer continued: "The role of the prosecutor is constantly evolving. The CPS and the Revenue & Customs Prosecutions Office recently merged and we are liaising much more closely with our local communities. It is critical that the Code is kept as relevant and clear as possible to assist prosecutors in their increasingly diverse roles and specialties.

"Many of the clarifications made in this edition of the Code were suggested in response to our consultation exercise. I thank everyone who contributed. Your suggestions have led to further revisions to help all those who are affected by a prosecutor's decision whether or not to prosecute to understand how and why that decision is reached."

The Code applies to all CPS prosecutors, including those in the new Revenue & Customs Division (formerly RCPO) and Associate Prosecutors, and police officers when making charging decisions.

The CPS is also publishing the Summary of Responses to the public consultation exercise on the draft Code, which sets out in detail the comments that we received and how we have dealt with them.

Ends

  1. Contact the CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8127 or 020 7710 6088.
  2. The Code is online here: www.cps.gov.uk/code
  3. The DPP has responsibility for issuing the Code under section 10 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.
  4. A consultation on the changes to the Code ran for 12 weeks from 19 October 2009. Eighty-five responses were received from, among others, members of the public, police forces, foreign prosecuting authorities and academics.
  5. The Summary of Responses can be found on the CPS website
  6. The DPP has published his long-term vision for the prosecution service and its role within the wider criminal justice system. It includes modernising the service and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of criminal justice - read "The Public Prosecution Service: Setting the Standard" at www.cps.gov.uk/pps
  7. The consultation on the Core Quality Standards document closed on 7 February 2010. The responses are being considered and the final document will be published before the summer. The draft is available here: www.cps.gov.uk/consultations/cqs_policy.pdf
  8. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). These are organised into 14 Groups, plus CPS London, each overseen by Group Chair, a senior CCP. In addition, there are five specialised national divisions: Counter-Terrorism, Fraud, Organised Crime, Revenue & Customs and Special Crime. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales.
  9. The CPS employs around 8,250 people and prosecuted 1,032,598 cases with an overall conviction rate of 86.6% in 2008-2009. Further information can be found on our website.

    www.cps.gov.uk

  10. 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.

    Publicity and the Criminal Justice System protocol