Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Commissioner 'should oversee PPS'

UUP MLA Basil McCrea

A Police Ombudsman-style commissioner should oversee the Public Prosecution Service (PPS), it has been claimed.

Families of victims are left frustrated because decisions not to prosecute or to accept a plea bargain and lesser sentence are often not fully explained and the authority is perceived as unaccountable, Ulster Unionist MLA Basil McCrea added.

The review of outgoing Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson's office follows failings identified by earlier reports.

Mr McCrea said: "I would favour oversight of the PPS. The problem is that they cannot tell people what is going on for fear of breaking confidentiality but people are very dissatisfied with a lot of sentences."

He added: "We have had a number of cases where the PPS takes decisions not to prosecute and subsequently they have been found to be wanting in that area."

Teenager Thomas Devlin was stabbed to death in north Belfast and two men were later sentenced despite an initial PPS decision not to bring murder charges against those accused of killing Mr Devlin. The schoolboy's parents have called for a review of the PPS.

A separate Police Ombudsman report was carried out by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate amid concerns about the independence of the office, the resignation of a former chief executive and poor staff relations.

Stormont's Justice Committee took evidence from officials involved in the review of the Police Ombudsman.

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