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DPP office "fully stretched" due to economic circumstances

DPP Claire Loftus made the comments in the office’s annual report for 2011, saying she was concerned it could not sustain the same output in coming years.

Image: steakpinball via flickr/The Commons

THE OFFICE OF the Director of Public Prosecutions has released its 2011 annual report, in which it says that the office continues to operate “in difficult economic circumstances”.

In her first annual report, the DPP Claire Loftus said:

This has had a significant impact on our resources.  The Office of the DPP differs from most Government Offices and Departments in that it has just one core function, the prosecution of crime.  It does not have discretionary programmes which it can decide to discontinue.

She said that the office has made clear previously that its resources “are fully stretched, having regard to the increasingly large and complex files which we are required to consider and subsequently present in court when a decision is made to prosecute”.

As the statistics show, we have largely managed to maintain the same overall rate of throughput as achieved in 2010 and 2009.  I am increasingly concerned however that it will not be possible to sustain this in the coming years.

Expenditure

The expenditure of the office is essentially demand-led, but Loftus said that during 2011 it managed to make significant savings, particularly under the heading of Legal Costs.

The total cost of running the prosecution service for 2011 was approximately €36.7m.  Fees paid to counsel who prosecute cases on behalf of the Director in the various criminal courts account for 37 per cent of this amount, while 34 per cent is paid in salaries and wages to staff in the Office of the DPP.  A further 7 per cent represents the amount paid in legal costs awarded by the courts.

The cost of the prosecution service for 2011 was approximately €4.3m less than in 2010.   Significant savings were also achieved during 2011 in relation to the payment of legal costs awarded by the courts.

Prosecution files

The DPP received 16,128 prosecution files in 2011, up from 15,950 in 2011.The main reasons for no prosecution were insufficient evidence (75 per cent), that the injured party withdrew its complaint (6 per cent) and public interest (4 per cent).

  • During 2011 a total of 11 Freedom of Information requests were submitted to the office.  Five of the requests were refused under the Act and two requests were withdrawn / dealt with outside of FOI. Four requests were granted/part granted.
  • With regard to applications for review of sentence on grounds of undue leniency, there were 55 applications in 2011, just one more than in 2010.
  • European arrest warrants: there were 51 issued in 2011 (49 in 2010), 68 files received from gardaí  (61 in 2010) and 28 people (27 in 2010) surrendered.

Explainer: How do European arrest warrants work?

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