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Revised Code for Crown Prosecutors

Volume 506: debated on Monday 22 February 2010

My right hon. Friend the Attorney-General has made the following written ministerial statement:

The review of the Code for Crown Prosecutors, which began during 2008, is now complete. Copies of the revised code have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The code was last revised by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in 2004 and it has now been updated in order to take into account recent changes in law and practice, as well as the merger between the Crown Prosecution Service and the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office.

The fundamental evidential and public interest considerations have not changed. However, the code has been amended to include: some additional public interest factors tending both in favour of and against prosecution; provision for exceptional situations which allow a decision to be made not to undertake a prosecution on public interest grounds before all the evidence in the case is available for consideration by the prosecutor; an explanation of how the CPS takes decisions in cases which require the DPP’s consent; greater clarity on the prosecutor’s role in considering out-of-court disposals; the introduction of an explanation of the threshold test and the circumstances in which it should be applied.

The revised code also makes it clear that, for the maintenance of public confidence in the criminal justice system, in rare cases where a new look at the original decision shows it was wrong, the CPS will consider reversing a decision not to prosecute. The current wording of this aspect of the code updates and brings greater clarity to the undertaking given in a written answer on this issue by the Attorney-General on 31 March 1993. I am particularly please to welcome the DPP’s decision to take a more robust approach to correcting prosecution decisions that were wrongly taken.

To ensure the code’s accessibility, it will be published in audio and Braille and, in addition to English and Welsh, the most commonly spoken community languages.

I welcome the revised code and commend it to all prosecuting authorities. Copies of the “Code for Crown Prosecutors” will be available on the Crown Prosecution Service website which can be found at: www.cps.gov.uk.