Letter from David Calvert-Smith QC, Director
of Public Prosecutions, to the Clerk of the Committee
Thank you for your letter of 26 February 2002.
I have now had an opportunity to consider the
evidence given by Bob Ainsworth to the Committee on the issue
of whether it is desirable to refine the legal definition of "supply"
to differentiate between "dealing" and "social
supply". I agree with Mr Ainsworth that any attempt to define
dealing or supply based on a given quantity is likely to be extremely
problematic, for the reasons he articulated.
As you know, once a case is received by the
Crown Prosecution Service it is reviewed in accordance with the
Code for Crown Prosecutors. Once a prosecutor is satisfied that
there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of
conviction, then the public interest factors set out in the Code
The prosecutor will also take account of a range
of factors set out in the CPS Prosecution Manual when making the
decision as to the correct choice of charge. In determining whether
the appropriate charge is Possession with Intent to Supply as
opposed to simple Possession, the prosecutor will consider the
amount of the drug in the defendant's possession. However, our
policy has long been that this is not a conclusive indicator,
although it is recognised that large quantities are likely to
be more consistent with supply than personal use. The prosecutor
will, in addition, consider other factors such as the variety
of drugs found, evidence that the drugs were prepared for sale,
other evidence of preparation, evidence of large amounts of money
in the possession of the defendant and evidence from diaries and
Our experience of prosecuting drugs cases is
that through the correct application of the Code for Crown Prosecutors
and the guidelines contained within our guidance manual, prosecutions
relating to drug offences are on the whole working effectively.
I am not aware of a groundswell of evidence indicating the contrary.
On many occasions, it will be a fine decision for the jury to
take as to whether it is satisfied that the evidence does prove
intent to supply. Whether or not the defendant is a dealer is
generally not an issue for the jury to determine, although the
judge will distinguish between dealers and social suppliers in
the sentence passed following conviction.
On balance, I am still of the view that the
best approach is for the jury to focus on weighing the evidence
tending to demonstrate intent to supply, rather than simple possession
as opposed to this issue being determined with reference to an