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Public Interest Test

In some cases, the evidential stage does not automatically lead to prosecution. Thus, public interest is considered to strike a balance of justice between the victim and the offender, for instance by ensuring that the sentence meted out is proportional to the harm suffered. In all cases involving joint enterprise, the prosecution must consider whether, notwithstanding the probative value of the evidence tendered, prosecution is necessary in the best interest of the public.[1] In other words, prosecution will typically suffice unless there are public interest issues tending against prosecution, and which supersede those in favour of prosecution.[2] Although there is a matter of public interest tending against prosecution, the prosecutor may consider whether prosecution may, nonetheless, proceed and the public interest question put to the court for consideration. This usually happens when sentence has been passed. The prosecutor may also consider that public interest will be properly served by allowing the suspect an opportunity to have the case determined in an out-of-court process rather than through prosecution.

In determining the public interest question, the prosecutor should take time to examine the facts and merits of the case, and make an overall deduction of the public interest. The prosecutor must also weigh the seriousness of the crime committed, for instance by considering the culpability of the suspect, the injury sustained by the victim, and the views of the victim or his family. In the case of joint enterprise, the level of culpability may be weighed by determining the offender’s level of involvement, the extent to which the crime was premeditated or planned, the age of the suspect, and any mental challenges affecting the suspect.[3] If the suspect is under 18 years of age, the best interest and welfare of the child takes precedent. This is a

[1] Crown Prosecution Service, above note 13, para 50.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, para 55.

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