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Code for Crown Prosecutors

Volume 558: debated on Tuesday 12 February 2013

2. What estimate he has made of the likely saving the Crown Prosecution Service will make by introducing proportionality into the public interest test of the Crown prosecutors’ code. (142502)

If the Crown Prosecution Service is to make decisions not to proceed with a prosecution on the grounds of cost or because of concerns about the health of a victim, is it not then right that a proper record is kept of how many and why, so that victims, the public and Parliament can hold both the Crown Prosecution Service and Ministers properly to account?

First, it is important that proportionality has been reintroduced to the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We have all seen examples of the schoolyard scuffle or other matters that should not be prosecuted, and where it is important to achieve a balance. On recording, the CPS keeps a considerable amount of records. Of course, that costs money and so there is a balance to be struck, but I will certainly think over the hon. Gentleman’s point.

I welcome the reintroduction of the proportionality test as part of the wider public interest test. Will my hon. Friend reassure the constituents I represent that the question of cost is but one of eight questions to be asked by Crown prosecutors when applying the public interest test, and that it will not be determined on the basis of cost alone?

My hon. Friend makes the point better perhaps than even I could, but I will just make two short points. First, this is not just about cost, but about assessing cost, the likely sentence, the full circumstances of the case and the other points made by my hon. Friend. Secondly, with regard to effective case management, it is often important in a complex case to concentrate on the main and most serious suspects, and so this gives an opportunity for the prosecution to consider that.