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DPP publishes new Code for Crown Prosecutors following public consultation

28/01/2013

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, QC, has today published a new edition of the Code for Crown Prosecutors, the overarching document that guides prosecutors and police in deciding whether or not to charge a suspect.

The publication follows a three month public consultation on a shorter, streamlined version of the Code.

Mr Starmer said: "The Code for Crown Prosecutors is an essential document that governs all charging decisions made by both prosecutors and police in a breadth of different cases across England and Wales.

"The CPS has recently widened the range of cases that it prosecutes, which includes motoring, benefit fraud, sexual offences, corruption, murder and the most complex fraud and organised crime. Given this variety of cases on which charging decisions are made, this new version of the Code is a simpler, stripped back statement of overarching principles that can be applied to every case. It sits side-by-side with a wealth of existing legal guidance on specific offences."

Changes to the Code following feedback to the consultation include:

  • additional clarification on the question of whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute, including more detail on the three questions prosecutors should ask themselves, i.e. whether the evidence can be used in court, whether it is reliable and whether it is credible
  • greater clarity on the effect of a prosecution on the victim's health, setting out that if there is evidence that a prosecution is likely to have an adverse impact on the victim's health that it may make a prosecution less likely, taking into account the victim's views
  • a clear reference to the CPS website where specific policies and guidance, for prosecutors to use in conjunction with the Code, may be accessed by the public.

The final version of the Code retains reference to proportionality as a consideration under the public interest stage of the test, which was included in the version on which the public was consulted. Proportionality previously featured in the versions of the Code in 1986 and 1992.

Mr Starmer added: "As I have said previously, the inclusion of proportionality represents a common sense approach to ensure prosecutors and police are prioritising the right cases to prosecute from the start. The majority of the respondents to the consultation who made comments relating to proportionality were in favour of the concept, which is intended to avoid bringing into the system cases in which criminality could be better addressed by other, more appropriate means.

"The consultation period has been an invaluable way of testing from different perspectives the high level principles set out in the new Code. I also held discussions with police, victim support services, campaigning groups, lawyers and other criminal justice agencies. Feedback from these groups and others informed the drafting of the final version."

This is the second version of the Code published by Mr Starmer and the seventh to date. Its publication today supports the ongoing CPS 'refocusing programme', designed to make the organisation leaner, more efficient and best able to serve the public.

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. The public consultation was launched on 19 July 2012 and closed on 10 October 2012. The summary of responses for the consultation has also been published today.
  2. The media can contact the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906 (out of hours pager 07699 781 926) or cps.pressoffice@cps.gsi.gov.uk. The CPS is also on Twitter @CPSUK.
  3. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are five specialised national divisions: Central Fraud, International, Special Crime and Counter Terrorism, Organised Crime, and Welfare, Rural and Health. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales.
  4. In 2011-2012 the CPS employed around 7,464 people and prosecuted 107,244 cases in the Crown Court and 787,547 cases in the magistrates' courts. 80.8% of prosecutions in the Crown Court and 86.5% in the magistrates' courts resulted in a conviction. Further information can be found on the CPS website.
  5. 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.