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About the PPS

About the PPS

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) is the principal prosecuting authority in Northern Ireland. The PPS makes prosecution decisions in cases investigated by the police in Northern Ireland. It also considers cases investigated by other statutory authorities, such as HM Revenue and Customs.

The PPS is led by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for Northern Ireland Stephen Herron. The Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Michael Agnew has the same powers as the Director but must exercise these subject to the DPP’s direction and control. Both posts are public appointments made by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland.

The PPS was established in June 2005. The Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 defines the PPS, its statutory duties and responsibilities and the legislative framework within which it must provide its services.

Since the devolution of policing and justice to the Northern Ireland Assembly in April 2010, the Service has been designated as a non-ministerial government department. Funding for the PPS is provided by the Northern Ireland Assembly and, as accounting officer for the Service, the Director is responsible for ensuring that the public monies provided are used efficiently. All members of staff are Northern Ireland Civil Servants.

The Director of Public Prosecutions - biography

Stephen Herron studied law at Queen’s University Belfast and qualified as a solicitor in 1997. He joined the then Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions in 2002, working as a prosecutor in various roles across the Service including Belfast & Eastern Region,  Fraud and Departmental Section and Central Casework.

Stephen was appointed Senior Assistant Director in 2013, taking the organisational lead on a number of criminal justice reform initiatives and overall responsibility for prosecution decisions in over 50,000 cases annually.

He played a key role in the Transformation Programme for the PPS which has involved the roll-out of a digital programme across courts; creation of a specialist prosecution unit for murder and serious sexual offences; the streamlining of regional services and redesigning the supports provided to victims and witnesses.

He was appointed as Acting Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions in May 2017 and was appointed Director of Public Prosecutions by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland on 2 January, 2018.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions - biography

Michael Agnew studied law at Trinity College, Dublin and was a member of the Bar of Northern Ireland from 2000, working on a mix of defence and prosecution cases.

Michael joined the Public Prosecution Service in 2006 and was soon promoted to Senior Public Prosecutor within the Central Casework section where he directed upon a range of complex and high profile files, including murder, terrorism and organised crime.

He was appointed Assistant Director in 2010 and initially had responsibility for a prosecutorial review of the Bloody Sunday Report. In 2012 he took over responsibility for the Central Casework Section where he oversaw a range of complex and sensitive casework, including all legacy cases considered by the PPS.

Michael was appointed Senior Assistant Director in 2017 and in April 2018 was appointed Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland.