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Alignment of Prosecutions (DEFRA and CPS)

Volume 531: debated on Tuesday 12 July 2011

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and I have agreed the forthcoming arrangements between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for the conduct of prosecutions.

Currently DEFRA prosecutions are conducted by an in-house prosecutions team that is part of DEFRA’s legal team. The forthcoming change is that the conduct of such prosecutions will be assigned by the Attorney-General, with the agreement of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to the Director of Public Prosecutions under section 3(2)(g) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, and DEFRA legal’s five prosecution posts will transfer to the CPS.

The transfer will take place on 1 September 2011.

DEFRA and the CPS have considered carefully the benefits of the changes and agree that the new structure will provide a better strategic fit for prosecutions. The new arrangement will provide greater resilience in the conduct of DEFRA prosecutions, and the team conducting those cases would have improved access to the range of specialist teams in the CPS that are not available in a small in-house team. The team would also have access to the CPS’s network of advocates serving courts locally.

The new arrangements provide for strong liaison, partnership and accountability between DEFRA and the CPS.

My right hon. Friend is also pleased to announce that with effect from 1 September 2011 the remainder of DEFRA’s legal team will transfer to the Treasury Solicitor’s Department. This transfer will provide greater resilience, flexibility and efficiency in the delivery of legal services to DEFRA.