PPS statement about the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on business

25 March 2020

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) is working hard to continue delivery of our essential services to the criminal justice system throughout the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

Along with our criminal justice partners, we have had to take a number of unprecedented and significant measures to adjust our usual working practices. At all times we have had the wellbeing of staff and the wider public in mind.

Our actions have been taken in line with official government advice, as well as guidance from the Northern Ireland Civil Service of which we are a part.

The PPS is continuing to operate from across its four offices, but only essential services are being delivered by the absolute minimum level of on-site staff. Staffing requirements are being kept under constant review. Social distancing measures continue to be enforced robustly.

In cooperation with the office of the Lord Chief Justice,  the PPS is continuing to service all necessary court hearings but with the adoption of remote working procedures where possible.  Decision-making processes on police investigation files also continue with the benefit of remote working.

Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Herron said: “The PPS has moved swiftly to adapt our working arrangements to meet the challenges being posed across society by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We continue to work with our justice partners to find the safest and healthiest way to deliver all essential services, while scaling back non-critical duties for the duration of this crisis.

“I would again appeal to victims and witnesses not to lose heart in the process if your case is on hold during the unavoidable delay which is affecting many court cases. While these set backs are a deep disappointment at an already difficult time, there has been an overwhelming response of understanding from victims we have been in contact with in recent times.  I thank you sincerely for this.

“Business will return to normal as soon as it is safe to do so, and the PPS will not forget about any victim or case.”

PPS offices in Belfast, Foyle, Newry and Omagh remain open for essential staff but are not open to members of the public until further notice.  Any official visitors, such as PSNI officers, should only call if their business is absolutely necessary and has been agreed with a member of PPS staff in advance.

If you are a member of the public who wishes to make contact with the PPS urgently, you can do so by emailing info@ppsni.gov.uk in the first instance. Urgent matters may also be raised by telephoning 02890 897100 but there may be a delay in getting through at present.

If you are a victim or witness, please keep in touch with the Victim and Witness Care Unit on 02890 264690 (Belfast) or 02871 340632 (Foyle).

The Director of Public Prosecutions' message to victims whose case had been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic can be found in the dedicated 'Your case and Covid-19' section of our website. This includes information for victims and witnesses can be found by clicking the link. This will be updated as the situation develops.

For the latest information on how wider courts business is being affected, please keep in touch with www.courtsni.gov.uk