HC Deb 31 March 1993 vol 222 cc200-1W
Mr. Waterson

To ask the Attorney-General what amendment he proposes to make to the undertaking given by the Solicitor-General on 25 April 1986 in relation to the reinstitution of proceedings which have been terminated, consequent upon the post of deputy Director of Public Prosecutions being put into abeyance.

The Attorney-General

The hon. Member refers to an assurance given during the course of the debate on 25 April 1986, at column 640, on prosecution policy.

The fundamental consideration remains that individuals should be able to rely on decisions taken by the prosecuting authorities. The policy of the Director of Public Prosecutions is that a decision to terminate proceedings or not to prosecute should not, in the absence of special circumstances, be altered once it has been communicated to the defendant or prospective defendant unless it was taken and expressed to be taken because the evidence was insufficient. In such a case it would be appropriate to reconsider the decision if further significant evidence were to become available at a later date—especially if the alleged offence is a serious one.

Special circumstances which might justify departure from this policy include:

  1. (1) rare cases where reconsiderations of the original decision show that it was not justified and the maintenance of confidence in the criminal justice system requires that a prosecution be brought notwithstanding the earlier decision; and
  2. (2) those cases where termination has been effected specifically with a view to the collection and preparation of the necessary evidence which is thought likely to become available in the fairly near future. In such circumstances the CPS will advise the defendant of the possibility that proceedings will be re-instituted.

In the circumstances described at 1 and 2 the decision will be taken at chief crown prosecutor level with effect from 1 April 1993.