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Title: Prosecutorial discretion and accountability : a comparative study of France and England and Wales
Author: Soubise, Laurène
ISNI:       0000 0004 5992 2982
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2015
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Tasked with enforcing the criminal law against suspected offenders, public prosecutors have traditionally enjoyed broad discretion, which is usually structured by legal and policy guidelines defining rules prosecutors should follow when making their decisions. Basing its analysis upon direct observations and interviews in the two jurisdictions under study, this comparative thesis endeavours to understand how the French and Anglo-Welsh criminal justice systems attempt to combine the necessities of accountability for public prosecution services in modern democratic societies with the flexibility and reactivity needed in the application of the law provided by prosecutorial discretion. There have been few systematic, empirical accounts of the decision-making process of these national prosecution services. This thesis argues that neither system observed achieves a satisfactory balance between accountability and discretion for public prosecutors. In France, although democratic and hierarchical accountability channels are well developed in theory, oversight is weak due to the primacy of the concept of ‘adaptation’ in the legal culture and the strong professional ethos of procureurs as independent judicial officers. In England and Wales, public prosecutors are part of a highly bureaucratic and centralised structure which strictly enforces consistency in prosecutorial decisions at the expense of much discretion and autonomy for individual prosecutors whose responsibility is limited to narrow and repetitive tasks due to the segmentation of the prosecution process. This overbearing accountability structure, coupled with a historical balance of power in favour of the police, appears to prevent prosecutors from making decisions perceived as unpopular with their hierarchy or the police. Finally, pressure on resources and a drive for efficiency in both jurisdictions have resulted in the bureaucratisation of the criminal justice process with part of the prosecution workload being delegated to unqualified staff and minor cases being processed as quickly as possible into a one-size-fits-all system.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Science Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: KD England and Wales ; KJ-KKZ European law