Saturday, October 17, 2009

Spot On

I had previously missed this quote from a Parliamentary committee:-

“Telling a victim that their views are central to the criminal justice system, or that the prosecutor is their champion, is a damaging misrepresentation of reality. Expectations have been raised that will inevitably be disappointed. Furthermore, the criminal justice system is set up to represent the public rather than individuals and there are good reasons for this. The CPS’s role as an independent arbiter of decisions about prosecution is critical. Explaining this role clearly to victims such that their expectations are managed realistically, rather than raised then disappointed, is vital”.

H&R Solicitors, who quote it on their website, say that they welcome this insight. They go on to say:

"A great deal of unnecessary human misery is caused by over-zealous prosecutors. We need a prosecution service which is dedicated to truth and justice, not to scoring political points or winning votes for politicians".

I agree. The CPS culture is gradually changing, and its independence is not always apparent these days. Prosecutors are now based in police stations, so inevitably they come to see themselves as a part of the police team, which they were never meant to be. The other day, when fixing a trial date the Prosecutor made vigorous efforts to persuade us not to warn a couple of PCs that they would be required on the grounds that it might mess up their rotas. I had to say that the court's sole concern was with justice rather than police operational matters and that if the defence wanted the officers to give evidence that is the way it would be. Article 6 of the HRA enshrines the right to a fair trial, not one that is convenient to the authorities.

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