Belfast Telegraph

Confidence in Public Prosecution Service hits 10-year high, new survey shows

Confidence in the Public Prosecution Service has hit a 10-year high, new figures have shown.

The new research into public confidence in the organisation, which is responsible for taking criminal prosecutions in Northern Ireland, found that 76% of the public were either 'very confident' or 'fairly confident' it is providing a fair and impartial prosecution service.

The last time the organisation saw public approval this high was in 2006, when 78% of the public expressed confidence in the organisation.

Over the past decade it has dipped as low as 69% in 2009, 67% in 2011, and 68% in 2013. 

The figures were published as part of the Northern Ireland Omnibus Survey on Thursday, an annual piece of research carried out by a branch of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

Questions included in the survey about PPS are commissioned by the prosecution service and used to develop policy and assess the effectiveness of its communication.

Over the past year the director of the PPS Barra McGrory has come under fire for alleged impartiality.

Speaking under parliamentary privilege in December 2016, then Conservative MP Sir Henry Bellingham said that historical inquiries into the legacy of the Troubles focused disproportionately on soldiers and members of the security services.

Responding to the criticism, the PPS said that it prosecutes legacy cases "without fear, favour or prejudice, in strict accordance with the Code for Prosecutors".

Writing in the Newsletter in May, DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson questioned the impartiality of the PPS in connection with the prosecution of ex-soldier Dennis Hutchings.

In May, Mr McGrory confirmed that he would resign later this year, with a replacement expected to be named in the autumn.

At his appointment in 2011, Mr McGrory was the first Catholic to be appointed as the head of the PPS.

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