evidence which the police should be asked to seek out which may support or detract from the account of the witness?
The Public Interest Test.
The section on public interest test begins with a warning -
In 1951, Lord Shawcross, who was then Attorney General, made the classicstatement on public interest, which has been supported by Attorneys Generalever since: “It has never been the rule in this country — I hope it never willbe — that suspected criminal offences must automatically be the subject of prosecution”. (House of Commons Debates, volume 483,column 681, 29 January 1951.)
It goes on to say …
The public interest [test] must be considered in each case[and in respect of each alleged offence] where there is enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction. Although there may be public interest factors against prosecution in a particular case, often the prosecution should go ahead and those factors should be put to the court for consideration when sentence isbeing passed. A prosecution will usually take place unless there are publicinterest factors tending against prosecution which clearly outweigh thosetending in favour, or it appears more appropriate in all the circumstances of the case to divert the person from prosecution (Para 5.7).
Crown Prosecutors must balance factors for and against prosecutioncarefully and fairly
. Public interest factors that can affect the decision to prosecute usually depend on the seriousness of the offence or thecircumstances of the suspect. Some factors may increase the need to prosecute but others may suggest that another course of action would bebetter. (Para 5.8).
It is almost always held to be in the public interest for a public official or a person in aposition of trust to be prosecuted when the evidential test is met.Given the code’s statutory status and the importance attached to it one would expectthe CPS to ensure that the evidential test is applied rigorously in all cases. Myexperience based on Court transcripts and documentary evidence suggest that this isnot the case as the following examples, which are typical of the vast majority of socalled historical child abuse that have been brought before the courts over the past tenyears, and for which many men are serving long prison sentences.
in South Wales one individual was originally charged with 98offences, by the time the case came to court the list had been reduced to 40. The trialwas halted by the Judge Mr Justice Curtis when he threw out two thirds of the remainingcharges referring to the complainant as “a fantasist “and “quick to make seriousallegations that could not possibly be true”Finally the prosecution conceded that they had no case to answer and withdrew allremaining charges.