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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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Bribery Act: CPS/SFO Prosecution Guidance Published


Today, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Keir Starmer QC, and the Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Richard Alderman, issued joint guidance for prosecutors on the Bribery Act 2010.

The Bribery Act, which is expected to come into force later this year, creates four distinct criminal offences of:

  • bribing another
  • being bribed
  • bribing a foreign public official
  • (for commercial organisations) failing to prevent bribery.

The purpose of the guidance is to set out the Directors' approach to deciding whether to bring a prosecution under the Act.

Keir Starmer QC, head of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "While the Act takes a robust approach to commercial bribery, it also applies to individuals who attempt to influence the application of rules, regulations and normal procedures.

"This guidance will enable prosecutors to adopt a consistent approach to decision making across the whole range of bribery cases. 

"The issues prosecutors must consider before deciding whether to seek my consent to prosecute an individual or an organisation for bribery are clearly outlined, and by making this guidance publicly available, our approach is made open and transparent."

The SFO's Director, Richard Alderman, said: "The Bribery Act is good news for the UK and UK business. It confirms our commitment to helping to eradicate bribery from business practices.  It will help ensure that ethical businesses do not lose out to others that use bribery and corruption to win contracts. We shall enforce the act vigorously, but we are still very keen to listen to specific issues that companies have. I want to work with ethical businesses to resolve problems pragmatically and fairly."

The guidance makes it clear that there is an inherent public interest in prosecuting bribery. 

The guidance also gives examples of how the public interest factors in the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the Guidance on Corporate Prosecutions may be applied to possible prosecutions under the Bribery Act. 

The guidance is not exhaustive and prosecutors will be aware of the wide range of circumstances and culpability which may arise in any particular case.


Notes to Editors

  1. The Bribery Act 2010 replaces the offence of common law bribery and the existing statutory offences of corruption.
  2. The Act does not affect offences committed wholly or partly before the commencement of the Act.
  3. The Ministry of Justice has issued guidance for commercial organisations on the procedures they can put in place to prevent people associated with them from bribing - visit
  4. The Code for Crown Prosecutors is issued by the DPP and gives guidance to prosecutors on the general principles to apply when making decisions about prosecutions.
  5. Only the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Director of the SFO (or someone they have personally authorised in writing to act on their behalf when they are 'unavailable') can decide to bring a prosecution.
  6. The Crown Prosecution Service prosecutes bribery offences investigated by the police committed either overseas or in England and Wales.
  7. The Serious Fraud Office both investigates and prosecutes and is the lead agency for overseas corruption.     
  8. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  9. The DPP has set out what the public can expect from the CPS in the Core Quality Standards document published in March 2010.
  10. 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.
  11. 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
  12. 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