Attorney-General’s role in prosecution decisions “clarified” in review

July 23, 2009 at 2:41 pm Leave a comment

Significant reforms to the role of the Attorney-General have been confirmed in a written answer from ministers.

The changes do not require legislation.

Measures have been taken to clarify the Attorney-General’s role of superintending the prosecuting authorities and the nature of the Attorney’s involvement in prosecution decisions.

The Attorney will retain the roles of chief legal adviser to the Government, Criminal Justice Minister with responsibility for superintending the main prosecuting authorities, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Fraud Office and the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office, and independent guardian of the public interest.

A new protocol has been agreed with the three prosecuting departments which sets out how the relationship is to work in practice, to safeguard the independence of the prosecutors while enabling the Attorney to be properly accountable to Parliament and the public.

In addition a strategic board has been set up, chaired by the Attorney and including the prosecuting departments, to provide strategic direction to the Law Officers’ Departments and secure greater efficiency and effectiveness.

The strategic board agreed at the beginning of April 2009 that the Crown Prosecution Service should be merged with the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office to create a strengthened prosecution service.

It is intended to amend the Attorney-General’s oath of office to include a specific reference to respect for the rule of law.

Furthermore, the Attorney-General,  Baroness Scotland, now only attends Cabinet when matters affecting her responsibilities are on the agenda.

In a written statement the Solicitor-General Vera Baird told MPs these “significant reforms” give effect to the aims of the review of the role, which were to enhance public confidence and respect for the rule of law and to provide greater clarity and transparency.

The Attorney General and Solicitor General have overall responsibility for the Treasury Solicitor and supervise the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office, HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate and the DPP for Northern Ireland.


Entry filed under: Commons, Lords, Procedure. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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