Prosecution as in England must only be undertaken if they are required by the public interest. What is this public interest and how is it understood?

Can these decisions not become quite politically loaded? For example, suppose an anti monarchist protestor breaches the public order act. A monarchist sympathetic prosecutor may more likely deem prosecution in the public interest. Suppose a monarchist then assaults him. A republican may deem the protectors prosecution ass contrary to the public interest and the assailant's as required by it.

But that is not really the public interest but rather the interest of a given specific political cause. What is the public interest when it comes to political masters?

  • A judge should never, ever be influenced by whether he is sympathetic to a cause or not.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 18, 2023 at 12:53

1 Answer 1


The "public interest" from a charging perspective is not the same as public popularity. From the charging guide, prosecutors:

should consider each of the questions set out in paragraphs 4.14 (a) to (g) of the Code to determine the relevant public interest factors for and against prosecution. These factors, together with any public interest factors set out in any further relevant guidance or policy issued by the DPP, should enable prosecutors and police decision makers to form an overall assessment of the public interest.

Those public-interest factors are listed here (and each is further elaborated):

  • How serious is the offence committed?
  • What is the level of culpability of the suspect?
  • What are the circumstances of and the harm caused to the victim?
  • What was the suspect’s age and maturity at the time of the offence?
  • What is the impact on the community?
  • Is prosecution a proportionate response?
  • Do sources of information require protecting?

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