A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF
PROSECUTION IN GERMANY AND
THE UNITED KINGDOM
Searching for Truth or Getting a Conviction?
The German criminal justice system is based on the inquisitorial tradition of all continental or civil law systems, contrary to the procedure in Anglo-Saxon common-law countries characterized by adversarial principles. The function of the prosecution, its influence on investigations, and its role in pretrial and trial proceedings differ substantially between the two systems. These differences, with regard to the implied risks of miscarriages of justice, are outlined in this chapter. I first outline the German system, followed by a section on the English prosecution service as it developed after recent changes. In the final section, I assess how the two systems favor and check the risks of wrongful convictions.
The position and structure of the German prosecution service is defined in a law on the organization of the criminal justice system, called Court Constitutional Law (GVG), and further specified in the Code of Criminal Procedure (Strafprozessordnung; hereafter CCP).1 The duties of the prosecutor as a special magistrate, being in charge of criminal investigations, were adopted under Prussian Justice Ministers von Savigny and Uhlen in 1856.