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DPP hits back at Met chief by suggesting police are not bringing enough cases

Max Hill (left), the Director of Public Prosecutions, spoke out after Met chief Sir Mark Rowley (right) criticised prosecutors (PA)
Max Hill (left), the Director of Public Prosecutions, spoke out after Met chief Sir Mark Rowley (right) criticised prosecutors (PA)

The Director of Public Prosecutions on Monday widened his rift with Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley by suggesting that low charging rates are the fault of the police not bringing enough cases to prosecutors.

Max Hill KC said that his organisation brought a charge in “around 78 per cent” of the cases referred to it by police and that officers were only turned down when the legal test for a prosecution was not met. He added that it was “irresponsible” and “simply wrong” to suggest that cases which failed to meet this test should be taken to court regardless, in a thinly veiled swipe at Sir Mark, and that charging decisions were not “a bureaucratic hoop to be jumped through”.

Mr Hill’s comments follow Sir Mark’s interview with the Evening Standard in which the Met chief accused the Crown Prosecution Service of “cherry-picking” easy cases to boost its conviction rates.

Sir Mark said the overall CPS conviction rate of about 80 per cent suggested it was shunning harder cases and he added that it should send more cases to court for juries rather than lawyers to decide on a suspect’s guilt. Sir Mark also accused prosecutors of excessive delays on charging decisions in domestic abuse cases. He said the hold-ups were the result of Covid working practices that had remained in place.

Mr Hill, who will end his five-year term as DPP later this year, said he was “disappointed” by the Commissioner’s comments but stepped up his attack today in an article for the Standard.

“Conviction rates play no part in CPS decision making,” he said. “We always prosecute where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to do so. Any suggestion that it would be better for victims for cases that do not meet the test for prosecution to just go to court anyway, for example in the field of domestic abuse cases, is irresponsible and simply wrong.”

On domestic abuse he said that such cases may seem easy to be “instantly charged” but that they were “perfect examples of where a specialist lawyer with access to a full police file of background offending can spot a wider pattern of criminal behaviour, bring stronger charges and ensure the long-term safety of victims.”