PLANS being hatched between the police and the Crown Prosecution Service for some Crown Prosecutors to be based in police stations could lead to CPS lawyers 'going native'.
Roger Ede, secretary to the Law Society's criminal law committee, said: “We see dangers in the CPS being too closely involved with the police. There is a risk of CPS lawyers losing objectivity.”
There is also the possibility such CPS lawyers could become witnesses to a case. “The danger is being drawn into police activities in relation to a suspect, as a legal adviser can be,” said Ede.
But he added: “We would encourage the police to seek legal advice from the CPS on matters like the sufficiency of their evidence, for example, but for it to be done at arm's length and not by the CPS being a part of what happens in the police station.”
A CPS spokeswoman said the idea for Crown Prosecutors to be based in police stations is being discussed with the Association of Chief Police Officers as part of an “on-going policy of furthering good relations with the police”.
No decision has yet been made, and numbers involved may be small. Pilot schemes may start in a handful of police forces next year, the spokeswoman said.
Newspaper reports of discussions between police and the CPS had been a little “over the top”, she added.
Newspapers reported the CPS was considering relaxing “the 50 per cent test for prosecutions”. However, the spokeswoman said the CPS “does not recognise a 50 per cent rule”.
Instead it relies on a reasonable prospect of conviction and public interest under the Code for Prosecutors.