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THE CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE

 

In common law systems the prosecutor is usually entrusted with extensive discretion in deciding whether to institute criminal proceedings. This discretion arises out of the ambiguity of the criminal law. Frequently a statute defining a particular criminal offence does not make absolutely clear what kind of behaviour it is intended to cover or includes a much wider range of circumstances than it was intended to prohibit. If this is so, the prosecutor must decide whether the case he is dealing with falls within what was intended to be the scope of the law. Changing attitudes in the community toward particular kinds of behaviour may mean that a criminal prohibition, while remaining on the statute books, no longer reflects the sentiment of the community, and the prosecutor is no longer expected to bring charges against people who infringe it. In other cases, laws may be enacted without the usual exemptions from responsibility for those who commit the act unintentionally. In such cases the prosecutor may nevertheless feel justified in not bringing proceedings against those who are technically guilty if they are in his view morally innocent.

In the United Kingdom the king is the prosecutor in all criminal offences, because such offences are said to be against his peace, his crown and dignity, but it is only in theory. In practice such prosecutions are ordinarily undertaken by the individuals who have suffered from the crime. This is a different procedure from that prevailing in Scotland, European continental countries and the United States, in all of which a public department or officer undertakes the prosecution of offences.

In England and Wales the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is responsible for prosecuting people charged by the police with a criminal offence. It provides liaison with other agencies and Government Departments to work together to achieve improvements in the criminal justice system and to meet new domestic, European and global challenges of crime. The Crown Prosecution Service started operating in 1986 when the Prosecution of Offences Act (1985) became law. Before this time local police forces were responsible for deciding whether to prosecute particular cases. The Crown Prosecution Service is an agency of the Home Office. It is the equivalent of the long established office of the Procurator Fiscal in Scotland.

The head of the Crown Prosecution Service is the Director of Public Prosecutions. He reports to the Attorney General, who holds Parliamentary responsibility for the Service. The Crown Prosecution Service employs approximately 7.700 staff including lawyers, caseworkers and administrators. These key personnel are located throughout the country and handle over 1.3 million magistrates court cases and 115.000 Crown court cases every year.

The Crown Prosecution Service has headquarters in London and York and operates under a structure of areas in England and Wales. These areas correspond with the boundaries of 43 police forces in England and Wales with London Area covering the operational boundaries of both City of London Metropolitan Police Forces. Each Area is headed by the Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP) who is responsible for prosecutions within the Area. A person to be qualified for the post of public prosecutor must be a barrister or solicitor of not less than ten years standing, and an assistant public prosecutor, who may be appointed under the act of 1908 and who is empowered to do any act or thing which the public prosecutor is required or authorized to do, must be a barrister or solicitor of not less than seven years standing.

The Crown Prosecution Service co-operates with the investigating and prosecuting agencies of other jurisdictions. The role of the Service is to prosecute cases firmly, fairly and effectively when there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and when it is in the public interest to do so. It is completely independent of the police although they work closely with them at all times. The police investigate crimes and charge people. After the Police have investigated a crime and passed the papers to the CPS, a Crown Prosecutor carefully reviews the papers to decide whether or not to go ahead with the case. The independence of Crown Prosecutors is of fundamental constitutional importance. The prosecutor's decision is based on the two tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors. Casework decisions taken with fairness, impartiality and integrity help deliver justice for victims, witnesses, defendants and the public. Crown Prosecutors must always think very carefully about the interest of the victim of the crime. This is an important factor when prosecutors decide where the public interest lies. If the prosecutor thinks that there is enough evidence, and that a prosecution is needed in the public interest, the case is then presented in the magistrates' court.

VOCABULARY NOTES

prosecutor, n. ; assstant/assocate prosecutor ; chef prosecutor ; prosecutor at law/n attendance/n court ; publc prosecutor .

proceedngs, n. ; ; criminal proceedings ; proceedngs at law ; cvl proceedngs/proceedngs n cvl cases ; to follow n court proceedngs ; to take crmnal proceedngs .

prosecuton, n. ; ; jont prosecuton ; legal prosecuton ; private prosecuton ; prosecuton of crme/crmnal prosecuton ; warranted prosecuton ; weak prosecuton ; to contnue prosecuton ; to deny prosecuton ; to face prosecuton ; to frustrate prosecuton ; to undertake prosecuton .

ambguty, n. ; ; ambguty upon the factum ; patent ambguty .

statute, n. ; ; applcable statute ; approprate statute ; cvl statute ; crmnal statute ; effectve statute ; effcent statute ; exstng statute ; former statute ; negatve statute ; obsolete statute ; penal statute ; wthdrawn statute .

attorney, n. ; ; ; arranged attorney ; attorney at law ; by attorney ; defense attorney ; plantff's attorney ; prosecutng attorney ; publc attorney .

code, n. ; civil code ; code of honour ; code of practce ; crmnal/penal code ; labour code ; revenue code .

jursdcton, n. ; appelate jursdcton ; civil jursdcton ; competent jursdcton ; court/judcal jursdcton ; criminal/penal jursdcton ; out of jursdcton ; wthn jursdcton ; to acqure jursdcton ; to come/to fall wthn the jursdcton ; to exercse jursdcton .

vctm, n. ; chef vctm ; offence vctm ; publc vctm .

wtness, n. ; arrest wtness ; wtness aganst a defendant/wtness aganst an accused ; wtness aganst a plantff ; wtness by the accused , ; wtness by the court , ; wtness for an accused/the defense/the defendant/ for the prsoner ; wtness for the prosecuton ; wtness n the box ; wtness on oath ; wtness to an overt act .

defendant, n. ; ; ; civil defendant ; convicted defendant ; criminal defendant ; defendant in criminal prosecution ; defendant in error ; defendant not n custody , ; numerous defendants/several defendants .

VOCABULARY EXERCISES

 

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