These guidelines are issued by the Attorney General for investigators, prosecutors and defence practitioners on the application of the disclosure regime contained in the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA). The guidelines emphasise the importance of prosecution-led disclosure and the importance of applying the CPIA regime in a ‘thinking manner’, tailored, where appropriate, to the type of investigation or prosecution in question.
The guidelines do not contain the detail of the disclosure regime; they outline the high level principles which should be followed when the disclosure regime is applied.
They replace the existing ‘Attorney General’s guidelines on disclosure’ issued in 2005 and the supplementary guidelines on digital material issued in 2011, which is an annex to the general guidelines.
The guidelines are intended to operate alongside the Judicial protocol on the disclosure of unused material in criminal cases
Review of the efficiency and effectiveness of disclosure in the criminal justice system
On 11 December 2017 it was announced that the Attorney General would lead a review of disclosure procedures to explore how to make prosecutorial processes more effective and efficient.
The terms of reference are to review the efficiency and effectiveness of disclosure in the criminal justice system, including specifically how processes and policies are implemented by prosecution and defence practitioners, police officers and investigators.
The review will consider evidence under the following cross-cutting themes:
a) Processes within ‘volume’ cases (within the Crown Courts and Magistrates’ Courts) and ‘complex cases’ including economic crime;
b) Guidance, including any Codes of Practice, Protocols or Guidelines and legislation;
c) Case management, including initiatives such as ‘Transforming Summary Justice’, ‘Better Case Management’ and ‘Digital Casework’; and
d) Capabilities across the criminal justice system including staffing, training, existing tools and digital technology.
The review team may consult private sector and representative bodies, academics and non-governmental organisations as appropriate, including through meeting groups of stakeholders, but will not publish a formal consultation or call for evidence.
The review will aim to report by summer 2018.