Understanding Prosecution Decisions
When the police make an arrest the suspect is taken to the police station so that detention can be authorized by the custody officer.1 Detention in custody allows the arresting officer, and sometimes his colleagues, to interview the suspect. When the officer believes that he has sufficient evidence to prosecute he is supposed to stop the investigatory process2 and put the facts before the custody officer, who can then decide whether or not to charge. However, even when the custody officer believes that he has sufficient evidence to charge the suspect with the alleged offence there are a number of choices: he can decide to caution him; he can release him with no further action; he can delay the decision either by releasing the suspect on police bail to return at a later date or by reporting the suspect with a view to a summons; or he can charge the suspect. If the decision is to charge, the case file is sent to the Crown Prosecution Service where a prosecutor must decide whether or not to continue with the prosecution.3
An original intention of this study was to interview custody officers about their decisions, but during the pilot study it was decided not to continue with this part of the fieldwork. This decision was reached in part because custody officers, while easy to____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Negotiating Domestic Violence:Police, Criminal Justice, and Victims. Contributors: Carolyn Hoyle - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 146.