What are the benefits & drawbacks of Police Led Prosecutions, including the Single Justice Process?


Police-led prosecutions will be beneficial regarding many minor offences for a number of different reasons that are set out below –

  • Where a guilty plea is made since the Crown Prosecution Service (hereafter, the CPS) would not then have to get involved due to the case being perceived of as easier to resolve in practice.
  • The fact that that the CPS could then use their limited available resources to them so as to deal with more serious criminal matters in view of the fact that the CPS now covers significantly smaller geographical areas and is thus placed under notably more pressure to ensure that justice is seen to be done in a timely manner.
  • Police-led prosecutions in relation to minor criminal offences could also serve to reduce the level of bureaucracy and delays in the achievement of justice when it comes to the resolution of individual cases to save money and available resources within the criminal justice system.
  • Police-led prosecutions could also, therefore, serve to improve quality and efficiency with regard to the way in which minor criminal offences are to be dealt with.
  • As a result, Police-led prosecutions consequently play a key role in being able to specifically streamline the system of criminal justice with regard to the resolution of individual cases end-to-end process.

Police-led prosecutions could prove detrimental with regard to the resolution of many minor offences, including those related to traffic, for a number of different reasons that are set out below –

  • The potential deterioration in the working relationship between the police and CPS in view of the police arguably being seen to be effectively phasing out the CPS’ involvement in the criminal justice system.
  • That it should not be assumed that everything will be easier and more efficient with greater reliance upon the use of police led prosecutions as opposed to relying upon the work of the CPS to free its up for dealing with more significant criminal offences.
  • This is because a high conviction rate could possibly be construed to mean that the police are risk averse due to their only bringing cases where the evidence is overwhelming.
  • Conversely, in the event that the conviction rate is very low then it is arguable that the police are bringing cases that should not have been brought, leading to unnecessary expenditure, delays and needless upset to all of the parties involved in a given case.
  • Finally, there are also arguably limitations regarding the police’s knowledge of criminal justice on the whole when compared with the CPS due to a lack of training and qualifications so as to detrimentally impact upon the completion of due process.

Based on the analysis to have been completed during the course of this presentation, it is clear that there are a number of different advantages and disadvantages associated with the use of police led prosecutions. Nevertheless, it would seem true to say that, in view of the limited resources that are available to the criminal justice system, the use of police led prosecutions have a role to play with a view to resolving minor criminal offences, including those related to traffic.


Association of Chief Police Officers, ‘Chief Constables Council: Police Role in Prosecutions’ (Agenda Item 6, 18 July 2013)
C Elliott and F Quinn, Criminal Law (11th Edition, Pearson, 2016)
House of Commons Library, ‘Charging Decisions and Police Led Prosecutions’ (www.parliament.uk, 5 March 2014)
<http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06840 > Accessed 27 August 2017
K Laird and D Ormerod, Smith and Hogan’s Criminal Law (14th Edition. Oxford University Press, 2015)
J Ward, ‘Transforming ‘Summary Justice’ through Police-led Prosecution and ‘Virtual Courts’ – Is ‘Procedural Due Process’ Being Undermined?’ (2014) 55(2) British Journal of Criminology 341

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