The Crown Prosecution Service: Gatekeeper of the Criminal Justice System - Justice Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers 196-199)


10 FEBRUARY 2009

  Q196 Chairman: Mr Green, Director of the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office and Mr McNaught, Head of Litigation and Enforcement Team in the Health and Safety Executive welcome to you both. You wanted to say something initially, Mr Green, about the nature of your work.

  David Green: Yes; indeed. I thought it might help if I explained to the Committee just in a couple of minutes what the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office is, who we are, what we do and how we fit with the CPS. RCPO is a specialist prosecutor serving both HM Revenue and Customs and the Serious Organised Crime Agency, established in 2005 under the Act which merged Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise into Revenue and Customs. At the same time, that Act took the prosecution function out of those predecessor bodies and set it up in a new, separate and independent prosecuting agency. RCPO is not—repeat not—part of HM Revenue and Customs. RCPO prosecutors have the same relationship with HMRC investigators as the CPS do with the police. As with the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, as Director of RCPO I operate under the superintendence of the Attorney General and we prosecute all types of tax offences including missing trader intra-community fraud in VAT, excise and duty fraud on alcohol, tobacco and oils, drug smuggling, money laundering, strategic export controls and sanctions violations. In other words, our work really coalesces under the headings of tax and borders. All these are obviously acquisitive crimes and naturally we have expertise as well in the confiscation of criminal assets. Whereas generally—and I mean generally—the CPS is the public prosecutor, prosecuting cases where the victims are individuals, RCPO is a government prosecutor prosecuting cases whose victims are all taxpayers or indeed society as a whole; one thinks of tax offences or drug smuggling. That said, we of course work very closely with CPS and indeed the Serious Fraud Office at a corporate level through the law officers' departments and the Attorney General's Strategic Board. We have regular liaison with the CPS on policy initiatives and the formulation of guidelines on new tools for the prosecutor such as serious crime prevention orders. Our confiscation specialists in both organisations speak with one voice and perhaps the best example with which I will leave you of our working together with the CPS is in our work for the Serious Organised Crime Agency. Since January 2006 CPS and RCPO have both prosecuted for SOCA under what is known as the dual prosecutor model. The system now works seamlessly and prosecutors speak as one to SOCA. By agreement RCPO prosecutors, in line with our expertise, prosecute most cases of large-scale drug importation, related money laundering and weapons smuggling investigated by SOCA. I hope that is of some assistance to explain who we are and what we do.

  Q197  Chairman: Yes; very helpful. You are both United Kingdom agencies.

  David Green: I am England and Wales only.

  Q198  Chairman: But of course Revenue and Customs is a United Kingdom body.

  David Green: Yes; it is indeed.

  Q199  Chairman: In Scotland the prosecutions are carried out under the authority of the Crown Office and the Procurator Fiscal.

  David Green: Indeed.

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