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DPP's office 'struggling to cope' with increased workload

The rise in crime rates has left James Hamilton and his staff stretched to limits, his annual report says.

James Hamilton, the Director of Public Prosecutions.
James Hamilton, the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive

THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS has warned that “something will have to give” in the prosecution of criminals if his office is forced to shoulder further cuts in personnel, or the level of crime continues to rise.

Releasing his office’s annual report yesterday, James Hamilton said his team had been able to cope with an increased workload and reduced staffing levels up until now, but that his ability to pursue prosecutions against criminals would be compromised if the level of crimes reported continued to grow.

The Irish Examiner reports that 12,299 people were the subjects of files sent to the DPP last year, an increase from 11,529 from 2008, and that in 33% of cases no charge was brought against the subject – most commonly due to the lack of evidence.

It adds that such is the backlog of work facing the DPP, however, that the report could only offer statistics for the number of cases completed in 2008.

The Irish Times adds that the fees paid to prosecution counsels grew by €1.5m in 2009, again because of the sheer increase in the number of cases being brought by the DPP’s office.

The office had paid €15.3m in legal fees in 2009, compared to €13.7m in 2008.

Hamilton also expressed surprise – and some disappointment – about the takeup of a new scheme which would see the DPP offer a summary of the reasons why a prosecution was not brought, but supposed that the low pursuit of the offer may be down to the growing length of time between the time an offence occurs and the time at which a prosecution is dropped.

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Gavan Reilly

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