The Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms. Claire Loftus, today launched her Office’s Annual Report 2020, setting out the activities of the Office during that year.
In her Foreword of the Annual Report 2020, the Director states:
“This is my last Annual Report as I step down on 7 November upon the expiration of my ten-year non-renewable term. I am therefore taking this opportunity to reflect on some of the important developments during what has been an eventful ten years in crime in Ireland.”
Remarking on her ten years in office, the Director said:
“The ten years since 2011 have been eventful for Ireland and for the criminal justice system. My tenure began in a financial crisis and is ending against the background of a global pandemic. In the early years there were challenges caused by recession related cuts to the budget of the Office. Meanwhile the Office undertook some very novel, large and complex prosecutions arising out of the banking crisis which resulted in some of the longest trials in the history of the State…”
“In the last decade the full impact of digitalisation and of social media has become apparent. Cybercrime both cyber-dependent and cyber enabled is now a major phenomenon. Crime has become global. Cases in every offence category have got bigger and more complex and present major challenges due to the volume of material collected in investigations.”
“There has been an increased and welcome focus on victims of crime in legislation and I am proud of the extensive work that the Office has done over many years to improve the understanding and experience of victims of the process that they are involved in. That work continues.”
With regard to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the prosecution service, the Director adds:
“The pandemic had a huge impact not only on the way the prosecution service and the criminal justice system did its business, but also on the sort of business that it was possible to conduct…. The Office adapted well to the challenges created by a lot of court business moving online.”
“For public health reasons it was not possible to run jury trials for a large part of the year, or to run as many jury trials…. This has meant that an enormous backlog of trials has been created at Central Criminal Court and Circuit Court level. I acknowledge the efforts currently underway to address the backlogs by the assignment of additional judges to preside at trials.”
In relation to the increase in files, the Director goes on to say:
“The pressures created by the pandemic particularly in relation to backlogs of trials were compounded in 2020 by a 27% increase in the number of files received for decision whether to prosecute.”
“The number of European Arrest Warrants received effectively doubled between 2019 and 2020. In the same period there was an increase of almost 50% in Mutual Legal Assistance Requests submitted to the Office.”
“Increases in workload have continued in 2021. These sorts of increases were not capable of being absorbed by the relatively small staff cohort of this Office. I am therefore very pleased that an additional 35 posts have recently been sanctioned by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, bringing the total staff complement to 260.”
The full Annual Report 2020 for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is now available to read here on this website.
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