This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996.'.


(s. 23(1)) 


General responsibilities 
Recording of information 
Retention of material 
Duty to retain material 

Length of time for which material is to be retained 
Preparation of material for prosecutor 

Circumstances in which a schedule is to be prepared 

Way in which material is to be listed on schedule 

Treatment of sensitive material 
Revelation of material to prosecutor 
Subsequent action by disclosure officer 
Certification by disclosure officer 
Disclosure of material to accused 


This code of practice is issued under Part II of the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 
1996 (‘the Act’).  It sets out the manner in which police officers are to record, retain and reveal 
to the prosecutor material obtained in a criminal investigation and which may be relevant to the 
investigation, and related matters. 

This code of practice applies in respect of criminal investigations conducted by police 
officers which begin on or after the day on which this code comes into effect.  Persons other than 
police officers who are charged with the duty of conducting an investigation as defined in the 
Act are to have regard to the relevant provisions of the code, and should take these into account 
in applying their own operating procedures. 
This code does not apply to persons who are not charged with the duty of conducting an 
investigation as defined in the Act. 
Nothing in this code applies to material intercepted in obedience to a warrant issued 
under section 2 of the Interception of Communications Act 1985 or section 5 of the Regulation 
of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, or to any copy of that material as defined in section 10 of the 
1985 Act or section 15 of the 2000 Act. 
This code extends only to England and Wales. 

In this code: 
-  a criminal investigation is an investigation conducted by police officers with a view 
to it being ascertained whether a person should be charged with an offence, or whether a 
person charged with an offence is guilty of it.  This will include: 
-  investigations into crimes that have been committed; 
- investigations whose purpose is to ascertain whether a crime has been 
committed, with a view to the possible institution of criminal proceedings; and 
-  investigations which begin in the belief that a crime may be committed, for 
example when the police keep premises or individuals under observation for a 
period of time, with a view to the possible institution of criminal proceedings; 
-  charging a person with an offence includes prosecution by way of summons; 
-  an investigator is any police officer involved in the conduct of a criminal 
investigation.  All investigators have a responsibility for carrying out the duties imposed 
on them under this code, including in particular recording information, and retaining 
records of information and other material;  

-  the officer in charge of an investigation is the police officer responsible for directing 
a criminal investigation.  He is also responsible for ensuring that proper procedures are in 
place for recording information, and retaining records of information and other material, 
in the investigation; 
-  the disclosure officer is the person responsible for examining material retained by the 
police during the investigation; revealing material to the prosecutor during the 
investigation and any criminal proceedings resulting from it, and certifying that he has 
done this; and disclosing material to the accused at the request of the prosecutor; 
-  the prosecutor is the authority responsible for the conduct, on behalf of the Crown, of 
criminal proceedings resulting from a specific criminal investigation; 
-  material is material of any kind, including information and objects, which is obtained 
in the course of a criminal investigation and which may be relevant to the investigation.  
This includes not only material coming into the possession of the investigator (such as 
documents seized in the course of searching premises) but also material generated by him 
(such as interview records); 
-  material may be relevant to an investigation if it appears to an investigator, or to the 
officer in charge of an investigation, or to the disclosure officer, that it has some bearing 
on any offence under investigation or any person being investigated, or on the 

surrounding circumstances of the case, unless it is incapable of having any impact on the 
-  sensitive material is material, the disclosure of which, the disclosure officer believes, 
would give rise to a real risk of serious prejudice to an important public interest; 
-  references to prosecution disclosure are to the duty of the prosecutor under sections 3 
and 7A of the Act to disclose material which is in his possession or which he has 
inspected in pursuance of this code, and which might reasonably be considered capable of 
undermining the case against the accused, or of assisting the case for the accused; 
-  references to the disclosure of material to a person accused of an offence include 
references to the disclosure of material to his legal representative; 
-  references to police officers and to the chief officer of police include those employed 
in a police force as defined in section 3(3) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985. 
General responsibilities 
The functions of the investigator, the officer in charge of an investigation and the 
disclosure officer are separate. Whether they are undertaken by one, two or more persons will 
depend on the complexity of the case and the administrative arrangements within each police 
force.  Where they are undertaken by more than one person, close consultation between them is 
essential to the effective performance of the duties imposed by this code. 

In any criminal investigation, one or more deputy disclosure officers may be appointed to 
assist the disclosure officer, and a deputy disclosure officer may perform any function of a 
disclosure officer as defined in paragraph 2.1. 
The chief officer of police for each police force is responsible for putting in place 
arrangements to ensure that in every investigation the identity of the officer in charge of an 
investigation and the disclosure officer is recorded.  The chief officer of police for each police 
force shall ensure that disclosure officers and deputy disclosure officers have sufficient skills and 
authority, commensurate with the complexity of the investigation, to discharge their functions 
effectively.  An individual must not be appointed as disclosure officer, or continue in that role, if 
that is likely to result in a conflict of interest, for instance, if the disclosure officer is the victim 
of the alleged crime which is the subject of the investigation.  The advice of a more senior officer 
must always be sought if there is doubt as to whether a conflict of interest precludes an 
individual acting as disclosure officer.  If thereafter the doubt remains, the advice of a prosecutor 
should be sought. 
The officer in charge of an investigation may delegate tasks to another investigator, to 
civilians employed by the police force, or to other persons participating in the investigation 
under arrangements for joint investigations, but he remains responsible for ensuring that these 
have been carried out and for accounting for any general policies followed in the investigation.  
In particular, it is an essential part of his duties to ensure that all material which may be relevant 

to an investigation is retained, and either made available to the disclosure officer or (in 
exceptional circumstances) revealed directly to the prosecutor. 
In conducting an investigation, the investigator should pursue all reasonable lines of 
inquiry, whether these point towards or away from the suspect.  What is reasonable in each case 
will depend on the particular circumstances.  For example, where material is held on computer, it 
is a matter for the investigator to decide which material on the computer it is reasonable to 
inquire into, and in what manner. 
If the officer in charge of an investigation believes that other persons may be in 
possession of material that may be relevant to the investigation, and if this has not been obtained 
under paragraph 3.5 above, he should ask the disclosure officer to inform them of the existence 
of the investigation and to invite them to retain the material in case they receive a request for its 
disclosure. The disclosure officer should inform the prosecutor that they may have such material.  
However, the officer in charge of an investigation is not required to make speculative enquiries 
of other persons; there must be some reason to believe that they may have relevant material.  
That reason may come from information provided to the police by the accused or from other 
inquiries made or from some other source. 
If, during a criminal investigation, the officer in charge of an investigation or disclosure 
officer for any reason no longer has responsibility for the functions falling to him, either his 
supervisor or the police officer in charge of criminal investigations for the police force concerned 

must assign someone else to assume that responsibility.  That person's identity must be recorded, 
as with those initially responsible for these functions in each investigation. 
Recording of information 
If material which may be relevant to the investigation consists of information which is 
not recorded in any form, the officer in charge of an investigation must ensure that it is recorded 
in a durable or retrievable form (whether in writing, on video or audio tape, or on computer 
Where it is not practicable to retain the initial record of information because it forms part 
of a larger record which is to be destroyed, its contents should be transferred as a true record to a 
durable and more easily-stored form before that happens. 
Negative information is often relevant to an investigation.  If it may be relevant it must be 
recorded.  An example might be a number of people present in a particular place at a particular 
time who state that they saw nothing unusual. 
Where information which may be relevant is obtained, it must be recorded at the time it is 
obtained or as soon as practicable after that time.   This includes, for example, information 
obtained in house-to-house enquiries, although the requirement to record information promptly 
does not require an investigator to take a statement from a potential witness where it would not 
otherwise be taken. 

Retention of material 
Duty to retain material 
The investigator must retain material obtained in a criminal investigation which may be 
relevant to the investigation.  Material may be photographed, video-recorded, captured digitally 
or otherwise retained in the form of a copy rather than the original at any time, if the original is 
perishable; the original was supplied to the investigator rather than generated by him and is to be 
returned to its owner; or the retention of a copy rather than the original is reasonable in all the 
Where material has been seized in the exercise of the powers of seizure conferred by the 
Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the duty to retain it under this code is subject to the 
provisions on the retention of seized material in section 22 of that Act. 
If the officer in charge of an investigation becomes aware as a result of developments in 
the case that material previously examined but not retained (because it was not thought to be 
relevant) may now be relevant to the investigation, he should, wherever practicable, take steps to 
obtain it or ensure that it is retained for further inspection or for production in court if required. 
The duty to retain material includes in particular the duty to retain material falling into 
the following categories, where it may be relevant to the investigation: 
-  crime reports (including crime report forms, relevant parts of incident report books 

or police officer's notebooks); 
-  custody records; 
-  records which are derived from tapes of telephone messages (for example, 999 
calls) containing descriptions of an alleged offence or offender; 
-  final versions of witness statements (and draft versions where their content differs 
from the final version), including any exhibits mentioned (unless these have been 
returned to their owner on the understanding that they will be produced in court if 
-  interview records (written records, or audio or video tapes, of interviews with 
actual or potential witnesses or suspects); 
-  communications between the police and experts such as forensic scientists, reports 
of work carried out by experts, and schedules of scientific material prepared by the expert 
for the investigator, for the purposes of criminal proceedings; 
-  records of the first description of a suspect by each potential witness who purports to 
identify or describe the suspect, whether or not the description differs from that of 
subsequent descriptions by that or other witnesses; 

-  any material casting doubt on the reliability of a witness. 
The duty to retain material, where it may be relevant to the investigation, also includes in 
particular the duty to retain material which may satisfy the test for prosecution disclosure 
in the Act, such as: 
-  information provided by an accused person which indicates an explanation for  
the offence with which he has been charged; 
-  any material casting doubt on the reliability of a confession; 
-  any material casting doubt on the reliability of a prosecution witness. 
The duty to retain material falling into these categories does not extend to items which 
are purely ancillary to such material and possess no independent significance (for example, 
duplicate copies of records or reports). 
Length of time for which material is to be retained. 
All material which may be relevant to the investigation must be retained until a decision 
is taken whether to institute proceedings against a person for an offence. 

If a criminal investigation results in proceedings being instituted, all material which may 
be relevant must be retained at least until the accused is acquitted or convicted or the prosecutor 
decides not to proceed with the case. 
Where the accused is convicted, all material which may be relevant must be retained at 
least until: 
-  the convicted person is released from custody, or discharged from hospital, in cases 
where the court imposes a custodial sentence or a hospital order; 
-  six months from the date of conviction, in all other cases. 
If the court imposes a custodial sentence or hospital order and the convicted person is released 
from custody or discharged from hospital earlier than six months from the date of conviction, all 
material which may be relevant must be retained at least until six months from the date of 
If an appeal against conviction is in progress when the release or discharge occurs, or at 
the end of the period of six months specified in paragraph 5.9, all material which may be relevant 
must be retained until the appeal is determined.  Similarly, if the Criminal Cases Review  
Commission is considering an application at that point in time, all material which may be 
relevant must be retained at least until the Commission decides not to refer the case to the Court 

Preparation of material for prosecutor 
The officer in charge of the investigation, the disclosure officer or an investigator may 
seek advice from the prosecutor about whether any particular item of material may be relevant to 
the investigation. 
Material which may be relevant to an investigation, which has been retained in 
accordance with this code, and which the disclosure officer believes will not form part of the 
prosecution case, must be listed on a schedule. 
Material which the disclosure officer does not believe is sensitive must be listed on a 
schedule of non-sensitive material.  The schedule must include a statement that the disclosure 
officer does not believe the material is sensitive. 
Any material which is believed to be sensitive must be either listed on a schedule of 
sensitive material or, in exceptional circumstances, revealed to the prosecutor separately.  If there 
is no sensitive material, the disclosure officer must record this fact on a schedule of sensitive 

Paragraphs 6.6 to 6.11 below apply to both sensitive and non-sensitive material.  
Paragraphs 6.12 to 6.14 apply to sensitive material only. 
Circumstances in which a schedule is to be prepared 
The disclosure officer must ensure that a schedule is prepared in the following 
-  the accused is charged with an offence which is triable only on indictment; 
-  the accused is charged with an offence which is triable either way, and it is 
considered either that the case is likely to be tried on indictment or that the accused is 
likely to plead not guilty at a summary trial; 
-  the accused is charged with a summary offence, and it is considered that he is likely 
to plead not guilty. 
In respect of either way and summary offences, a schedule may not be needed if a person 
has admitted the offence, or if a police officer witnessed the offence and that person has not 
denied it. 

If it is believed that the accused is likely to plead guilty at a summary trial, it is not 
necessary to prepare a schedule in advance.  If, contrary to this belief, the accused pleads not 
guilty at a summary trial, or the offence is to be tried on indictment, the disclosure officer must 
ensure that a schedule is prepared as soon as is reasonably practicable after that happens. 
Way in which material is to be listed on schedule 
The disclosure officer should ensure that each item of material is listed separately on the 
schedule, and is numbered consecutively.  The description of each item should make clear the 
nature of the item and should contain sufficient detail to enable the prosecutor to decide whether 
he needs to inspect the material before deciding whether or not it should be disclosed. 
In some enquiries it may not be practicable to list each item of material separately.  For 
example, there may be many items of a similar or repetitive nature.  These may be listed in a 
block and described by quantity and generic title. 
Even if some material is listed in a block, the disclosure officer must ensure that any 
items among that material which might satisfy the test for prosecution disclosure are listed and 
described individually. 
Treatment of sensitive material 

Subject to paragraph 6.13 below, the disclosure officer must list on a sensitive schedule 
any material, the disclosure of which he believes would give rise to a real risk of serious 
prejudice to an important public interest, and the reason for that belief.  The schedule must 
include a statement that the disclosure officer believes the material is sensitive.  Depending on 
the circumstances, examples of such material may include the following among others: 
-  material relating to national security; 
-  material received from the intelligence and security agencies; 
-  material relating to intelligence from foreign sources which reveals sensitive 
intelligence gathering methods; 
-  material given in confidence; 
-  material relating to the identity or activities of informants, or undercover police 
officers, or witnesses, or other persons supplying information to the police who may be in 
danger if their identities are revealed; 
-  material revealing the location of any premises or other place used for police 
surveillance, or the identity of any person allowing a police officer to use them for 

-  material revealing, either directly or indirectly, techniques and methods relied upon 
by a police officer in the course of a criminal investigation, for example covert 
surveillance techniques, or other methods of detecting crime; 
-  material whose disclosure might facilitate the commission of other offences or hinder 
the prevention and detection of crime; 
-  material upon the strength of which search warrants were obtained; 
-  material containing details of persons taking part in identification parades; 
-  material supplied to an investigator during a criminal investigation which has been 
generated by an official of a body concerned with the regulation or supervision of bodies 
corporate or of persons engaged in financial activities, or which has been generated by a 
person retained by such a body; 
-  material supplied to an investigator during a criminal investigation which relates to a 
child or young person and which has been generated by a local authority social services 
department, an Area Child Protection Committee or other party contacted by an 
investigator during the investigation; 
-  material relating to the private life of a witness. 

In exceptional circumstances, where an investigator considers that material is so sensitive 
that its revelation to the prosecutor by means of an entry on the sensitive schedule is 
inappropriate, the existence of the material must be revealed to the prosecutor separately.  This 
will apply only where compromising the material would be likely to lead directly to the loss of 
life, or directly threaten national security. 
In such circumstances, the responsibility for informing the prosecutor lies with the 
investigator who knows the detail of the sensitive material.  The investigator should act as soon 
as is reasonably practicable after the file containing the prosecution case is sent to the prosecutor.  
The investigator must also ensure that the prosecutor is able to inspect the material so that he can 
assess whether it is disclosable and, if so, whether it needs to be brought before a court for a 
ruling on disclosure. 
Revelation of material to prosecutor 
The disclosure officer must give the schedules to the prosecutor.  Wherever practicable 
this should be at the same time as he gives him the file containing the material for the 
prosecution case (or as soon as is reasonably practicable after the decision on mode of trial or the 
plea, in cases to which paragraph 6.8 applies). 
The disclosure officer should draw the attention of the prosecutor to any material an 
investigator has retained (including material to which paragraph 6.13 applies) which may satisfy 
the test for prosecution disclosure in the Act, and should explain why he has come to that view. 

At the same time as complying with the duties in paragraphs 7.1 and 7.2, the disclosure 
officer must give the prosecutor a copy of any material which falls into the following categories 
(unless such material has already been given to the prosecutor as part of the file containing the 
material for the prosecution case): 

information provided by an accused person which indicates an explanation for the 
offence with which he has been charged; 
-  any material casting doubt on the reliability of a confession; 
-  any material casting doubt on the reliability of a prosecution witness; 
-  any other material which the investigator believes may satisfy the test for prosecution 
disclosure in the Act. 
If the prosecutor asks to inspect material which has not already been copied to him, the 
disclosure officer must allow him to inspect it.  If the prosecutor asks for a copy of material 
which has not already been copied to him, the disclosure officer must give him a copy.  
However, this does not apply where the disclosure officer believes, having consulted the officer 
in charge of the investigation, that the material is too sensitive to be copied and can only be 

If material consists of information which is recorded other than in writing, whether it 
should be given to the prosecutor in its original form as a whole, or by way of relevant extracts 
recorded in the same form, or in the form of a transcript, is a matter for agreement between the 
disclosure officer and the prosecutor. 
Subsequent action by disclosure officer 
At the time a schedule of non-sensitive material is prepared, the disclosure officer may 
not know exactly what material will form the case against the accused, and the prosecutor may 
not have given advice about the likely relevance of particular items of material.  Once these 
matters have been determined, the disclosure officer must give the prosecutor, where necessary, 
an amended schedule listing any additional material: 
-  which may be relevant to the investigation, 
-  which does not form part of the case against the accused, 
-  which is not already listed on the schedule, and 
-  which he believes is not sensitive, 
unless he is informed in writing by the prosecutor that the prosecutor intends to disclose the 
material to the defence. 

Section 7A of the Act imposes a continuing duty on the prosecutor, for the duration of 
criminal proceedings against the accused, to disclose material which satisfies the test for 
disclosure (subject to public interest considerations).  To enable him to do this, any new material 
coming to light should be treated in the same way as the earlier material. 
In particular, after a defence statement has been given, the disclosure officer must look 
again at the material which has been retained and must draw the attention of the prosecutor to 
any material which might reasonably be considered capable of undermining the case for the 
prosecution against the accused or of assisting the case for the accused; and he must reveal it to 
him in accordance with paragraphs 7.4 and 7.5 above. 
Certification by disclosure officer 
The disclosure officer must certify to the prosecutor that to the best of his knowledge and 
belief, all relevant material which has been retained and made available to him has been revealed 
to the prosecutor in accordance with this code.  He must sign and date the certificate.  It will be 
necessary to certify not only at the time when the schedule and accompanying material is 
submitted to the prosecutor, and when relevant material which has been retained is reconsidered 
after the accused has given a defence statement, but also whenever a schedule is otherwise given 
or material is otherwise revealed to the prosecutor. 
Disclosure of material to accused 

If material has not already been copied to the prosecutor, and he requests its disclosure to 
the accused on the ground that: 
-  it satisfies the test for prosecution disclosure, or 
-  the court has ordered its disclosure after considering an application from the accused, 
the disclosure officer must disclose it to the accused. 
If material has been copied to the prosecutor, and it is to be disclosed, whether it is 
disclosed by the prosecutor or the disclosure officer is a matter of agreement between the two of 
The disclosure officer must disclose material to the accused either by giving him a copy 
or by allowing him to inspect it.  If the accused person asks for a copy of any material which he 
has been allowed to inspect, the disclosure officer must give it to him, unless in the opinion of 
the disclosure officer that is either not practicable (for example because the material consists of 
an object which cannot be copied, or because the volume of material is so great), or not desirable 
(for example because the material is a statement by a child witness in relation to a sexual 

If material which the accused has been allowed to inspect consists of information which 
is recorded other than in writing, whether it should be given to the accused in its original form or 
in the form of a transcript is matter for the discretion of the disclosure officer.  If the material is 
transcribed, the disclosure officer must ensure that the transcript is certified to the accused as a 
true record of the material which has been transcribed. 
If a court concludes that an item of sensitive material satisfies the prosecution disclosure 
test and that the interests of the defence outweigh the public interest in withholding disclosure, it 
will be necessary to disclose the material if the case is to proceed.  This does not mean that 
sensitive documents must always be disclosed in their original form: for example, the court may 
agree that sensitive details still requiring protection should be blocked out, or that documents 
may be summarised, or that the prosecutor may make an admission about the substance of the 
material under section 10 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967.

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