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PROSECUTION CODE SET FOR GREATER PROPORTIONALITY

DPP invites responses to proposed new prosecutors code used by HSE 

Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), has launched a consultation on a proposed new edition of the Code for Crown Prosecutors (the Code). The Code is the overarching document that all prosecutors, including HSE,  follow in deciding whether or not a suspect should be charged.

Proposed changes to the new Code concern:

  • Length – more succinct format and avoidance of duplication;
  • Focus – sharper focus on consideration of evidence admissibility, reliability and credibility;
  • Public interest – broad questions on public interest rather than a long list of particular factors;
  • Seriousness – questions for prosecutors on seriousness of the offending, culpability and impact; and
  • Proportionality – prosecutors must consider whether a prosecution is proportionate to the likely outcome.

In launching the consultation Mr Starmer said:

“Proportionality is about choosing the right cases to prosecute from the start, and doing so in the most effective way. Where cases are complex prosecutors should ensure prosecutions are focused. A common sense approach will ensure the right cases are brought before the courts, and those that shouldn’t be prosecuted are not introduced to the system only to later be withdrawn.

The changes to the public interest considerations in this draft aim to direct prosecutors to think about the particular circumstances of the case they are working on, rather than to consider the previous list of pre-determined generalised factors. Now is the time to reposition the Code as an overarching statement of principles, sitting above the wealth of specific legal guidance and policies on individual policy and casework areas.”

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