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Crown Prosecution Service

House of Lords written question – answered on 6th June 2011.

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Photo of Baroness Whitaker Baroness Whitaker Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Baroness Verma on 12 May, what parliamentary scrutiny has taken place over the decision to transfer responsibility for charging from the Crown Prosecution Service back to the police for some offences.

Photo of Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lords Spokesperson (Attorney General's Office), Lords Spokesperson (Wales Office), The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Scotland Office)

The chief executive of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) explained the transfer of responsibility to the police, for charging in certain further offences, when he gave evidence to the House of Commons Justice Select Committee in January 2011. The issue of statutory charging has also been raised in a number of Parliamentary Questions during recent years.

Under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the CPS was given the power to charge, although the police retained the responsibility to charge in the more minor cases, which made up around two-thirds of the overall casework. The detailed division of responsibility for charging is set out in the Director of Public Prosecutions' Guidance on Charging, which is regularly updated. Since implementation, the issue of statutory charging has been the subject of review, most recently in the reports on police bureaucracy from Sir Ronnie Flanagan and Jan Berry. The Association of Chief Police Officers and the CPS agreed a programme of work in response and this included piloting the return of certain further offences to the police in 2010. The pilots were subject to a careful evaluation process that concluded in agreement to a national rollout, which will be completed at the end of June this year. The Home Secretary recently announced that further cases are to be returned to the police to charge following agreement between the CPS and ACPO. This will be the subject of a further pilot and evaluation. It is important to note that the CPS will remain responsible for the charging decision in the most serious and complex cases, and all cases charged by the police will be reviewed by the CPS following charge in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

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