Prosecution

Prosecution in Europe

The Crown Prosecution Service and Adversarial Truth Finding – Between Tradition and Transition

Ringnalda Allard, from the Utrecht University, made a contribution to the 2012 Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology, in the category “Crime and Society,” under the title “The Crown Prosecution Service and Adversarial Truth Finding – Between Tradition and Transition”. Here is the abstract: Looking at the past 25 years, the development of the role of the CPS concerning the investigation and presentation of evidence can easily be taken to signify a trend towards inquisitorial, continentalstyle prosecution. This paper will take issue with such a positivistic interpretation and defend a legal cultures approach. Under a legal cultures approach it is argued that the cultural dimension of a criminal procedure system can be characterised according to its method of truth finding, which can be adversarial (truth finding through the principle of party equality) or inquisitorial (truth finding as an active search for the 'material truth', carried out by state officials). The paper will argue that the current role of the CPS does not imply that fundamental adversarial tenets of the English adversarial tradition have been abandoned. Instead, problems and solutions that have led to procedural reform have consistently been interpreted in line with adversarial ideas about truth finding. The overall aim seems to have been to fit the CPS into the adversarial fundaments of English procedure. But it remains to be seen whether these attempts have been successful. The paper will argue that, although the present-day role of the CPS does not imply inquisitorial principles of truth finding, the CPS has been given a number of tasks in relation to the investigation and disclosure of evidence that sit uneasily with the English adversarial system. As a consequence, proper guarantees for their fulfilment are absent., and the coherence of adversarial truth finding is undermined.

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Further Reading

  • “The Crown Prosecution Service and Adversarial Truth Finding – Between Tradition and Transition”, by Ringnalda Allard (Proceedings)

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