Criminal Justice Bill
Lord Goldsmith (Attorney General, Law Officers' Department; Labour)
It may be helpful to say a few words about Clause 78 and what it covers in order to put the amendment in context. Clause 78 allows the police to reinvestigate an acquitted person in respect of the qualifying offence of which he has been acquitted only with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The DPP must consider in giving his consent—subsections (4), (5) and (6)—whether the person's acquittal acts as a bar to a retrial before giving his consent to reinvestigate. He must not give his consent unless he is satisfied that—subsection (6)—as a result of the investigations there is, or is likely to be, sufficient new evidence to warrant the conduct of the investigation and that it is in the public interest for the investigation to proceed.
The steps which therefore require consent are set out in subsection (3)—the arrest or questioning of the acquitted person; a search of him or his premises; a search of a vehicle owned by him; a seizure of anything; or taking his fingerprints or a sample from him. The application itself is subject to the further safeguard that the application must be made—subsection (4)—by an officer who, if we are talking about the Metropolitan Police or the City of London Police, is of the rank of commander or above, and in any other case of an assistant chief constable.
Those safeguards appear to us to be very substantial. They come of course before the safeguard of the requirement that there is ultimately an application by the DPP that he has considered the case personally and which is accepted by the Court of Appeal. We do not see—and are not persuaded to accept the amendment therefore—the necessity and the desirability of adding an additional requirement that the DPP should have to seek the leave of a Crown Court judge.