Police to get more charge powers

Police officers

Police officers in England and Wales will be given more discretion to decide when crime suspects should be charged.

The announcement is expected to be made by new Home Secretary Theresa May when she addresses the Police Federation conference in Bournemouth on Wednesday.

Officers will have powers to charge an increased number of minor offenders without consulting prosecutors.

The Crown Prosecution Service has been responsible for making decisions in all but the most minor and simple cases.

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw says the aim was to improve the standard of decisions and reduce the number of weak cases going to court.

Pilot scheme

However, an inspection report 18 months ago concluded the procedures were complex and inefficient, and significant numbers of suspects were granted police bail because the process took too long.

Last month, a pilot scheme allowing officers more discretion to charge suspects started in five police force areas.

Ms May will announce she intends to let police make charging decisions for minor offences in England and Wales, in a move expected to be welcomed by members of the Police Federation.

The BBC’s Andy Tighe in Bournemouth says it is a calculated crowd pleaser for rank and file officers.

But the rest of the government’s police agenda may not be so popular, he adds.

There could be reductions in police spending, possible cuts in officer numbers and the prospect of elected police commissioners.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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