Prosecutions

Attorney-General written question – answered on 3rd September 2014.

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Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Conservative, Harborough

To ask the Attorney General who the non-police prosecuting agencies are in England and Wales; and what each body's status and powers in law are as a prosecutor.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

Where an offence does not specify a particular prosecutor, any person has the right to institute criminal proceedings and conduct a prosecution. This applies whether the person is acting in a purely personal capacity or in the course of his duties for a local authority, government department, business enterprise or other organisation. However, the vast majority of non-police prosecutions are conducted by the following public authorities. Due to the right of any legal person to institute criminal proceedings, this is not an exhaustive list:

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS):

Established by the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, the CPS is a non-ministerial government department, operating under the superintendence of the Attorney- General. In addition to prosecuting cases investigated by the police, the CPS prosecutes cases referred to it by DEFRA, Home Office immigration officials, HMRC, the National Crime Agency, the DWP, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the Department for Health, the Food Standards Agency and the Child Maintenance Group.

Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”):

The SFO and its powers were created by the Criminal Justice Act 1987 (as amended). It is an independent government department, operating under the superintendence of the Attorney-General. Its purpose is to investigate and, if appropriate, prosecute those who commit serious or complex fraud, bribery and corruption and pursuing them and others for the proceeds of their crime.

Service Prosecuting Authority (“SPA”):

The SPA was formed by the Armed Forces Act 2006 on 1 January 2009. The role of the SPA is to review cases referred to it by the Service Police or Chain of Command and to prosecute appropriate cases at Courts Martial or the Service Civilian Court.

Department for Business Innovation and Skills (“BIS”):

The functions of the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform were transferred to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills by Order in 2009. BIS is the lead criminal enforcement agency for insolvency related fraud and associated corporate misconduct. It is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of offences on behalf of the Secretary of State under the Insolvency and Companies regimes, including bankruptcy offences and fraudulent trading.

Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”):

The CMA is an independent non-ministerial department. It was established by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 and took over many of the functions of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) together with those of the Competition Commission. In particular, under the Enterprise Act 2002, the CMA has the power to investigate and prosecute individuals for the cartel offence contrary to section 188 of that Act. The CMA also investigates and prosecutes offences under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008.

Companies House (“CA”):

CA is an executive agency of BIS and has responsibility for prosecuting offences of failing to file annual accounts and annual returns under the Companies Act 1985 (as amended).

Gambling Commission (“GC”):

The GC was set up under the Gambling Act 2005 to regulate commercial gambling in Great Britain. It is an independent non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. GC has the power to investigate and prosecute offences under the Gambling Act 2005.

Environment Agency (“EA”):

EA is an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by DEFRA. Established in 1996 by the Environment Act 1995, it investigates and prosecutes environmental offences contained in both primary and secondary legislation.

Food Standards Agency (“FSA”):

Established by the Food Standards Act 1999, the FSA is a non-ministerial government department with the objective of protecting public health in relation to food. It investigates and prosecutes food safety and food hygiene offences that are contained in both primary and secondary legislation. Offences relating to animal welfare in abattoirs are prosecuted by the CPS.

Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”):

Established by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (“HSWA”), the HSE aims to protect the health, safety and welfare of people at work, and to safeguard others, mainly members of the public, who may be exposed to risks from the way work is carried out. This includes investigating and prosecuting offences under the HSWA and associated regulations.

Office of the Rail Regulator (“ORR”):

ORR is a non-ministerial government department. Established on 5 July 2004 by the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, ORR enforces health and safety law in relation to railways and prosecutes under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA), the Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2011, the Rail Vehicle Accessibility (Non-Interoperable Rail System) Regulations 2010 and the Train Driving Licences and Certificates Regulations 2010.

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (“DVLA”):

DVLA is an executive agency sponsored by the Department for Transport and prosecutes offences contained in the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 and associated regulations on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport.

Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (“DVSA”):

DVSA is an executive agency sponsored by the Department for Transport and aims to improve road safety in the U.K. It prosecutes under a range of primary and secondary legislation in relation to vehicle standards.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (“MCA”):

MCA is a UK executive agency sponsored by the Department for Transport. Its objectives are to prevent the loss of lives at sea implement British and International maritime law and safety policy. It investigates and prosecutes health and safety offences and offences contained in the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 and associated regulations.

Local Authorities (“LA’s”):

LA’s prosecute a broad range of offences from housing benefit fraud to trading standards and food hygiene offences.

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