Role of the Department of Justice
- The Department of Justice (‘the Department’) is responsible for the control of criminal prosecutions, free from any interference. The independence of the prosecutor is of fundamental constitutional importance. Prosecution decisions taken with fairness, impartiality and integrity help deliver justice for victims, witnesses, accused, as well as for the public as a whole.
- The police investigate allegations of domestic violence and gather the evidence. The decision to prosecute is that of the prosecutor, not that of the victim or the police. Although full weight is always given to the views of the victim, the prosecutor is not the legal representative of the victim and is not permitted to examine the evidence with the victim. The role of the prosecutor is to prosecute on behalf of the public.
- As the Department is committed to improving the way in which cases involving domestic violence are conducted, a Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions has been appointed as Prosecution Policy Co-ordinator on Victims' Rights. Three senior prosecutors co-ordinate policy in relation to cases involving domestic violence, child abuse, and vulnerable witnesses. The Vulnerable Witness Team of dedicated prosecutors has a specific mandate to uphold the interests of victims and witnesses at every stage of criminal proceedings. The Statement on the Treatment of Victims and Witnesses was issued in 2004 and was reviewed in 2009, and this indicates how prosecutors can safeguard the position of all such persons.