Sir Alasdair Fraser CB QC, Director of the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland (PPS) said: “It is essential that the PPS provides a fair, independent, impartial and effective prosecution service which is responsive to the needs of the community and gives a service which the community requires.”
Sir Alasdair was speaking at the launch of the new Public Prosecution Service in the Hilton Hotel, Belfast. The event’s prestigious audience had guest speakers including the Secretary of State, The Rt Hon Peter Hain MP and the Attorney General, The Rt Hon the Lord Goldsmith QC.
Welcoming the establishment of the Public Prosecution Service the Director said:
“The new Public Prosecution Service lies at the heart of the criminal justice system and it is essential for society that it provides a service which is independent, fair and effective.
“We are now building for the future; building upon the recommendations of the criminal justice review which we promoted; and
building upon the previous Department to provide our community with a new and enhanced prosecution service.
“This is a journey which we as Public Prosecutors do not take alone. It is a journey which we share with the community. It is a journey which looks to the future, to provide a fair, independent, impartial and effective prosecution service which is responsive to the needs of the community and gives a service which the community requires.”
“The central change now is that the PPS will have responsibility for all prosecutions in Northern Ireland previously conducted by the police, as well as absorbing the work of the previous department. This means that by the end of 2006 we will be dealing with some 75,000 cases per year.
“We have already recruited a substantial number of new colleagues and by December 2006 a total of 560 will be employed in the new service.
“The PPS will be a regionally based organisation with offices, in Belfast, Londonderry, Omagh, Lisburn, Ballymena and Newry. Each will be lead by a Regional Prosecutor supported by a number of prosecutors. We have already rolled out in the Greater Belfast area and in the counties of Tyrone and Fermanagh with the full rollout being completed by December 2006.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
The creation of the PPS arises from the Review of the criminal justice system. Of the 294 recommendations made by the Criminal Justice Review, 49 related to the prosecutions of offences alone. This was the largest group of recommendations and is a reflection of the central position which the prosecution process occupies within the criminal justice system.
The Public Prosecution Service is presently operational in the Greater Belfast Area and in Fermanagh and Tyrone. The remainder of the service is being rolled out and the full service will be available across Northern Ireland by the end of 2006. The next Regional office to be opened will be in Lisburn, early in 2006, with the Eastern Region of the PPS being fully operational by June
2006. The remainder of the Western and Southern Region will follow shortly thereafter with the Northern Region coming on line in the Autumn and will be fully operational by December 2006.
The locations for the regional offices are :
Belfast Belfast (HQ)
Northern Ballymena, Londonderry
Western and Southern Omagh, Newry
The PPS will be dealing with 75,000 cases each year by the end of 2006.
It will provide the following key services,
a. An enhanced service to victims and witnesses
b. Prosecutorial advice to police
c. All Charges reviewed prior to their submission to court
d. Prosecution Decisions taken in all cases
e. Summonses produced and issued by PPS
f. A range of diversionary options, (ie a way of dealing with offenders other than the formal court process) used; and
g. Prosecutions conducted in all Magistrates’s, Youth and County Courts by PPS lawyers.
The PPS will employ approximately 560 by the end of 2006.
Further information can be obtained at: www.ppsni.gov.uk