Belfast Telegraph

Warning over prosecution service

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has warned his office is at breaking point as it dealt with files on more than 12,000 alleged criminals.

James Hamilton revealed 2009 was a challenging year with a rising number of cases with reduced resources.

"So far we have managed to cope but the office now finds itself fully stretched and if there is any further increase in the workload coming in to the office, something will have to give," said Mr Hamilton.

The DPP's annual report showed the office received a total 16,076 files in 2009.

Of 9,170 files involving 12,299 suspects, the DPP directed that 4,269 alleged criminals go to the District Court while 3,732 faced the more serious Circuit, Central or Special Criminal Courts.

However it was directed that no prosecution be taken on another third, with 4,114 suspects spared going on trial.

Seven out of 10 of the allegations dropped was because of insufficient evidence, 6% over public interest and in 5% of cases the injured party withdrew the complaint.

Other reasons for directing a case should not be prosecuted included sympathetic grounds, sending a juvenile on a diversion programme or the time fame since the alleged offence occurred.

Another 184 cases, just 1%, were still under consideration and more than 6,900 files were dealt with by the DPP's solicitors and involved High Court bail applications, District Court prosecution files and appeals to the Circuit Court.

Elsewhere, Mr Hamilton said his office kept up its recent policy of giving the family members of a person who was killed in an incident the reason why a prosecution was not taken.

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