Catalogue description Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure (Philips Commission): Records

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Details of BS 12
Reference: BS 12
Title: Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure (Philips Commission): Records

Minutes, papers and report of the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure (Philips Commission), together with research papers, written evidence, transcripts of oral proceedings, reports of visits, minutes of Commission and Committee meetings and some domestic files.

Date: 1977-1981

The open evidence is arranged alphabetically by the first word of substance (eg. Department of Health and Social Security under letter 'D').

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure, 1978-1981

Physical description: 609 file(s)
Access conditions: Subject to 30 year closure unless otherwise stated
Publication note:

The Commission's report was published in January 1981, as a Command Paper (Cmnd. 8092) with a supplementary volume, The Investigation and Prosecution of Criminal Offences in England and Wales: The Law and Procedure (Cmnd. 8092-1) A summary of the report, The Balance of Criminal Justice was issued as a Stationery Office publication at the same time.

Administrative / biographical background:

The Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure was established by Royal Warrant of 3 February 1978 under the chairmanship of Professor Sir Cyril Philips. Its terms of reference were to examine, having regard both to the interests of the community in bringing offenders to justice and to the rights and liberties of persons suspected or accused of crime, and taking into account also the need for the efficient and economical use of resources, whether changes are needed in England and Wales in:

  • the powers and duties of the police in respect of the investigation of criminal offences and the rights and duties of suspect and accused persons, including the means by which these are secured;
  • the process of and responsibility for the prosecution of criminal offences;
  • other features of criminal procedure and evidence as relate to the above;
and to make recommendations.

The commission held 50 full meetings, the first on 15 February 1978 and in addition set up three sub-committees - the Research Committee which engaged in the preliminary formulation of a research programme, a Law and Procedure Committee which prepared the supplementary volume of the Report describing existing arrangements, and a Drafting Committee which prepared drafts of the final Report for the approval of the full Commission.

The commission drew on evidence from four main sources, written submissions, oral evidence, visits by the Commission and research. Oral evidence was taken in late 1979 and early 1980 on the basis of a consultative paper in order to test opinion on key issues already identified and proposed changes. Commissioners visited every police force in England and Wales and also many police stations and criminal courts in the United Kingdom and abroad. In addition they initiated twelve research studies, which were published, and some smaller research projects by Commission staff, the results of which were incorporated in the Report.

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