New Prosecution Code

Prosecutions that are more trouble than they’re worth could be dropped under a new draft Code for Crown Prosecutors launched for consultation today.

A new paragraph 4.10 says:

Prosecutors will, in most cases, prosecute where the two stages of the Full Code Test are met without any weight being given to any other factor. However, in certain very limited situations, it is right to take into account whether a prosecution is a proportionate response to the specific offending when deciding the most appropriate course of action. However, this should always be balanced against the seriousness of the offence and the loss or harm sustained in the case.       (emphasis added).

This inelegant wording seems to have been inspired by the recent CPS takeover of the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office. Presumably, the CPS was worried about having to mount costly prosecutions in fraud cases that would result in minimal fines. Thus, pragmatism rules.

The main changes, as summarised by the CPS, are:

  • Prosecutors will have a discretion to determine whether, where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to prosecute, a prosecution is a proportionate response to the specific offending (paragraph 4.10)
  • Prosecutors will have a discretion to stop a prosecution in the public interest, in exceptional circumstances, before all of the evidence is available (paragraphs 4.16 and 4.17)
  • A fuller section explaining the Threshold Test (section 5)
  • A fuller section explaining the use of out-of-court disposals for both adults and youths (section 7)
  • A fuller explanation of how the public interest is assessed (paragraphs 4.8 and 4.9)
  • Further public interest factors are identified both tending in favour and against prosecution (paragraphs 4.12 and 4.13)

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