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Letters: 'Should charging be left to the police?'

15 June 2010

I have been involved in the CJS for many years and have had long spells on both the prosecution and defence sides of the fence. I felt that Jeannie Mackie’s article (Solicitors Journal 154/20, 25 May 2010), where it concerns responsibility for charging,overlooks some important points:

  • I noticed no particular improvement in the quality of charging decisions when this became the responsibility of the CPS rather than the police. Quite the reverse in fact. I found that the police tended to be more pragmatic and balanced when it came to levels of charging. Of course there will always be the zealot who wants to throw the book at a defendant but these can be found in the CPS as well as in the police force.
  • The article describes the present system of bailing the suspect while a decision is made as “a somewhat laborious scheme” but “not unsafe for the public”. The real scandal of the scheme is that a person can find himself on bail with conditions severely restricting personal liberty for a considerable time while civil servants decide on charges at their leisure. Prior to the decision to charge passing to the CPS, the police had no power to impose conditions on bail to a police station.

The imposition of conditions on someone who has not even been charged with an offence, and may never be, is a serious infringement of personal liberty and one that ought to be reviewed now that oppressive laws are being looked at again.

Jonathan Dollin

Solicitor

Worcestershire County Council

Legal and democratic services

Categorised in:

Police & Prisons Local government