The Evolving Role of the Public Prosecutor: Challenges and Innovations

Front Cover
Victoria Colvin, Philip Stenning
Routledge, Sep 24, 2018 - Social Science - 296 pages

The modern public prosecutor is a figure both powerful and enigmatic. Legal scholars and criminologists often identify “three essential components” of criminal justice systems: police, courts and corrections. Yet increasingly, the public prosecutor occupies a distinct role independent from any of these branches. Acting outside of the court, and therefore largely out of the public eye, the prosecutor’s control over whether and what charges proceed to court can limit judicial discretion on sentencing, open pathways to alternative measures and even deny entry into the criminal justice system entirely. In this sense the prosecutor serves as a true “gatekeeper” to the criminal process.

This book addresses key aspects of the evolving role of domestic and international prosecutors in common law and civil law systems in the twenty-first century, and the challenges posed by this evolution. This collection of chapters from respected scholars takes an international, comparative approach and explores how these different legal systems have borrowed theorisations and articulations of the prosecutorial role from each other in adapting the office to changing conditions and expectations. The volume is structured around four main themes relating to the role of the modern prosecutor: the nature of the prosecutor’s office, the role of the prosecutor in investigations, prosecutorial discretion and how it is exercised, and politicisation and accountability of prosecutors.

This book is essential for scholars and students in criminal justice, pre-law/legal studies, criminology, justice studies and political science, and is useful as a resource for those interested in legal change around the world.


What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2018)

Victoria Colvin is a lecturer at the School of Law, University of Wollongong. She completed her doctorate at the TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland, in 2017. From 2001–2009, she was a prosecutor with the Criminal Justice Branch of the Attorney General of British Columbia, Canada.

Philip Stenning is an Adjunct Professor in the Griffith Criminology Institute at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, a Visiting Professor in the Law School at Leeds University in the UK and an Honorary Professor in the School of Applied Human Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. His published books include Appearing for the Crown: A Legal and Historical Review of Criminal Prosecutorial Authority in Canada (1986), The Modern Prosecution Process in New Zealand (2008) and, with David Bayley, Governing the Police: Experience in Six Democracies (2016).

Bibliographic information