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Criminal Justice System

The Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland was established in June 2005 by the commencement of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002. The Act defines the Public Prosecution Service, its statutory duties and responsibilities and the legislative framework within which it must provide its services. The PPS is the principal prosecuting authority in Northern Ireland. In addition to taking decisions as to prosecution 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 headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland. There is also a Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions. The Deputy Director has all the powers of the Director but must exercise them subject to his direction and control. Both posts are public appointments made by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland.

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 Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 provides for the Director and Attorney General to consult with each other from time to time on any matter for which the Attorney General is accountable to the Northern Ireland Assembly. However in accordance with the Act the functions of the Director shall be exercised by him independently of any other person.

The PPS Management Board, which includes two non-executive members, supports the Director in his leadership of the PPS and in reaching decisions as to the development and implementation of the Service and its proper governance.