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CPS review cases brought under the coronavirus laws

17 June 2020
CPS review cases brought under the coronavirus laws

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has committed to reviewing all prosecutions brought under the Coronavirus Act and Health Protection Regulations to make sure the new laws are being applied consistently and appropriately. Prosecutors have now reviewed more than 200 finalised cases under the coronavirus legislation up to the end of April, with any incorrect charges withdrawn and overturned.

The majority of prosecutions under the Regulations - 175 out of 187 - were charged correctly. Seven cases were discontinued in court on the day of the defendant's appearance and five convictions were returned to be re-opened and withdrawn.

Errors usually involved Welsh regulations being applied in England or vice versa.

All 44 cases under the Act were found to have been incorrectly charged because there was no evidence they covered potentially infectious people, which is what this law is intended for.

The number of cases incorrectly charged for March and April were:

Under the Health Protection Regulations:

  • 187 cases in total were brought to court
  • 7 were withdrawn after being incorrectly charged
  • 5 were returned to court after being incorrectly charged

Under the Coronavirus Act

  • 44 cases were brought to court
  • 31 were withdraw after being incorrectly charged
  • 13 were returned to court after being incorrectly charged

A total of 38 had been charged alongside substantive offences, including assaults on emergency workers, theft and burglary.

Thirty-one of the incorrect charges were stopped at the first court hearing and 13 were returned to be re-listed and withdrawn. Eleven cases were substituted with Regulations offences instead.

The CPS review covers all finalised cases where a prosecution has either been stopped or a guilty plea entered and accepted. In addition, the CPS has put in place an internal safeguard which means any charge under this legislation must be now reviewed by a supervising lawyer before being called on in court.

More information can be found here.

The CPS have published a review of completed prosecutions under coronavirus laws in May here. It showed that the legislation was correctly applied in nearly 85% of cases.

Under the Health Protection Regulations, 84 cases were charged and 8 were withdrawn in court as incorrectly charged.

Under the Coronavirus Act, 9 cases were charged and 8 were withdrawn as they were identified as incorrectly charged, with 1 case having to be returned to court as it was incorrectly charged. 

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