Freedom of Information Requests

The awkward questions put to the police and related sectors

Charging decision & authority


Dear Lancashire Constabulary,

I am writing to you under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to request the following information:

  1. Who makes a decision to charge a suspect within Lancashire police (name, position or rank)?
  2. Who, if necessary, who authorises the charging decision of point 1 (name, position or rank)?
  3. What obligations do both decision maker (and authority signature) have when making a charging decision?

To help with any misunderstanding, I offer the following to assist;

If a charging decision is made by police (not CPS), what is the Lancashire police policy on who should make a decision to charge?

Would the decision to charge require further authorisation by a more senior officer?

If so, under what circumstances and by whom (name, position or rank)

Would there be any circumstances where a charging decision for a summary only offence be made (or authorised) by the Chief Constables office? 

I would also ask for clarification relating to an officer who puts their signature on a charging decision.  What I mean is, if an officer of any rank signs a decision to charge, or indeed gives authorisation of a decision to charge, does that infer that the officer has actually digested what they are in fact authorising or, would there be any circumstances where an officer will sign oblivious to the charges/circumstances?

My understanding is that a signature of authority is a legal acceptance of the decision made if there are any legal challenges to that decision.

If it is not possible to provide the information requested due to the information exceeding the cost of compliance limits identified in Section 12, please provide advice and assistance, under your Section 16 obligations, as to how I can refine my request to be included in the scope of the Act. In any case, if you can identify ways that my request could be refined please provide further advice and assistance to indicate this.

I look forward to your response within 20 working days, as stipulated by the Act.

If you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact me via email and I will be happy to clarify what I am asking for.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Ponting