Better Case Management: Guidance for police attendance at PTPH

One of the important aims of BCM is to ensure that the Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing (PTPH) is effective, either through a guilty plea with sentence being passed on the day or by the judge making appropriate orders to ensure an effective trial in the case of a not guilty plea.

The PTPH will be effective if all parties have complied with the Criminal Procedure Rules and the Case Management Practice Direction, as well as the BCM principles of case ownership and responsibility, and direct engagement.

The prosecution and defence advocates are required fully to be prepared to ensure the PTPH is effective.

Police resources are best spent and focused on ensuring that there is a proportionate file provided to the prosecution and by responding to all enquiries before the PTPH. If further information is required for case management or in order to complete the PTPH form, the police will be expected to provide this by email or telephone ahead of the hearing, so that realistic directions can be made.

Therefore, the court must not require the officer in the case, as a matter of routine, to attend PTPH. However, the police shall ensure the prosecution are able to contact a police representative from court, for example by telephone, who will be able to provide answers to questions arising at the PTPH (such as witness availability).

The current practice should continue by which the police and prosecution agree that the officer in the case should attend the PTPH in exceptional circumstances, for instance when the case is complex or sensitive, in order to assist with complex issues that may arise at the PTPH such as Special Measures and Disclosure.

Similarly, officers in the case should not routinely attend subsequent case management hearings such as Pre Trial Reviews, although again this is subject to the prosecution and police determining whether this step is necessary when the case is complex and /or sensitive.

Again, in exceptional circumstances police officers may also attend bail applications.

The above does not affect the requirement of police officers to attend court to give evidence.