30/06/2009

Prosecution Service Makes 'Progress'

Significant achievements have been made by the Public Prosecution Service towards its goal of recognition as a 'first-class prosecution service'.

Sir Alasdair Fraser, Director of Public Prosecutions insisted today that the findings of the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJINI) confirms good news to date.

He was commenting following the publication of CJINI's report of its follow-up inspection of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

"I welcome the findings of the report and in particular the recognition that much good work has been done and importantly that the quality of our core prosecutorial decision making remains sound.

"It found that progress had been achieved against all of the 17 recommendations made in its 2007 baseline report of the PPS," he said, noting that he was encouraged that CJINI confirmed that the organisation is "moving forward" and has recognised that as a young organisation still in transition "we are moving rapidly towards maturity".

"We must continue to build on these achievements and ensure that significant further progress continues to be realised," he continued.
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"The PPS is fully committed to enhancing its service to victims and witnesses and the current year will see additional progress across a range of areas including the publication of a number of new policy initiatives on hate crime, sexual offences and serious road traffic offences."

However, the director was disappointed with the finding in the report that there was resistance by prosecutors to providing more detailed reasons for decisions not to prosecute.

Explaining the service's policy on giving reasons, he said: "The giving of reasons for not prosecuting is a complex issue.

"A balance needs to be struck between the proper interests of victims and witnesses and other concerns including damage to the reputation or other injustice to an individual, the danger of infringing upon the presumption of innocence and the risk of jeopardising the safety of others.

"Our policy is to give reasons for decisions not to prosecute in all cases in general terms.

"This policy is examined and reviewed in every case where a request for the provision of detailed reasons is made.

"Normally detailed reasons would be provided," he explained.

(BMcC/JM)

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