Section 113: Powers in respect of offenders who assist investigations and prosecutions
536.The 2005 Act creates a statutory framework to clarify and strengthen common law provisions that provide for immunity and sentence reductions for defendants who co-operate in the investigation and prosecution of others who may have committed criminal offences. Section 71 of that Act confers on a “specified prosecutor” (as defined in section 71(4)) power to grant a person immunity from prosecution. Section 72 of the 2005 Act confers on specified prosecutors power to give an undertaking that any information which a person provides will not be used against that person in any criminal proceedings, or proceedings under Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), which are brought in England and Wales or Northern Ireland. Section 73 of the 2005 Act gives specified prosecutors power to enter into a written agreement with a defendant, for the defendant to provide assistance in relation to an offence and provides for the court to take into account the assistance given or offered when determining the sentence to impose on the defendant. There is also a power in section 74 for specified prosecutors to refer a case back to the court where a defendant benefits from a sentence reduction but then reneges on the agreement to provide assistance.
537.Subsections (2) and (5) of section 113 amend section 71(1) and section 72(1) of the 2005 Act to provide that these provisions can only be used for the investigation or prosecution of serious criminal offences. While a person who assists the authorities under these powers can be offered immunity or a restricted use undertaking or sentence reduction agreement for any offence, the assistance must be in relation to the investigation or prosecution of an offence that is capable of being tried in the Crown Court (that is it is either an indictable offence or triable either way).
538.Subsection (3) amends section 71 of the 2005 Act by adding the FSA and the Secretary of State for BIS to the list of “specified prosecutors” who can use the powers set out in sections 71 to 74 of the 2005 Act.
539.Subsection (4) adds new subsections (6A) to (6C) to section 71 of the 2005 Act. New subsection (6C) provides that the power of the FSA and BIS to grant immunity from prosecution under section 71 in any case is subject to the consent of the Attorney General. This reflects the fact that the other “specified prosecutors” under the 2005 Act are superintended by the Attorney General and the Attorney General is consulted before any grant of immunity is made by a superintended prosecutor. The requirement that the FSA and BIS obtain the Attorney General’s consent before granting immunity under section 71 is aimed at putting FSA and BIS in a comparable position to the other “specified prosecutors” when granting immunity under section 71 of the 2005 Act.
540.New subsection (6A) provides that the FSA and BIS may delegate the powers in sections 71 to 74 of the 2005 Act within their respective organisations only to one prosecutor (or a nominated deputy in that person’s absence). New subsection (6B) disapplies the normal arrangements for discharging the functions of the FSA in order to ensure that these powers are delegated only in the circumstances set out in new subsection (6A).
541.Subsection (7) introduces a new section 75B which provides the Attorney General with the power to issue guidance to all the “specified prosecutors” on the use of the powers set out at sections 71 to 74 of the 2005 Act.