Organisational Prosecutions

Slapper, Gary (2001). Organisational Prosecutions. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.



The subject of the book is the activity of the many agencies (local and central governmental departments, private companies, and organisations) which act as prosecutors in magistrates' courts. They include organisations as diverse as water companies, train companies, the RSPCA, the Environment Agency, and the TV licence enforcement office.

There are over 30 prosecuting organisations (21 are featured in this text) which act regularly in over 350 courthouses in England and Wales. This activity, involving very many people and a good deal of resources, accounts for something like one fifth of activity in the criminal courts yet almost no previous research has been conducted in this area.

The total cost of organisational prosecutions incurred across the 350 magistrates' courts is over £550 million a year. Despite the facts that the multifarious prosecuting organisations are all using the same rules of evidence and procedure, are bringing their cases in the same forum (the magistrates' court), and are subjecting their defendants to the same possible punishments, they have no umbrella system under which they operate.

The text is based upon a year's study of all of 9,689 organisational prosecutions brought at three magistrates' courts in different regions (London, Milton Keynes, and Newcastle-under-Lyme), and a national structured survey of the views of 70 magistrates' clerks. The text analyses the different approaches taken by the different organisations, their conviction rates, the types of sentencing used for different sorts of cases, and other important questions.

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