The Director of Public Prosecutions

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is the national head of service for the Crown Prosecution Service for England and Wales, appointed by and responsible to the Attorney General. The current DPP is Keir Starmer QC (2008-), the fourteenth lawyer to hold the position.  

The historical role

The office was created by the Prosecution of Offences Act 1979 with the first DPP, Sir John Maule, being appointed in 1880 by the Home Secretary. Both the second and third directors, Sir Augustus Stephenson QC (1884-1894) and Lord Desart QC (1894 – 1908) also held the position of Treasury Solicitor. Until 1986, the role of the Director of Public Prosecutions was to handle responsibility of a few important cases with the rest left to the police.

List of DPPs since 1880

  1. Sir John Maule QC (1880-1884)

  2. Sir Augustus Stephenson QC (1884-1894)

  3. Lord Desart QC (1894-1908)

  4. Sir Charles Willie Matthews QC (1908-1920)

  5. Sir Archibald Bodkin QC (1920-1930)

  6. Sir Edward Tindal Atkinson QC (1930-1944)

  7. Sir Theobald Mathew KCB MC QC (1944-1964)

  8. Sir Norman Skelhorn QC (1964-1977)

  9. Sir Thomas Hetherington QC (1977-1987; first head of CPS)

  10. Sir Allan Green QC (1987-1992)

  11. Dame Barbara Mills DBE QC (1992-1998)

  12. Sir David Calvert-Smith QC (1998-2003)

  13. Sir Ken Macdonald QC (2003-2008)

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For more information on:

  • The Crown Prosecution Service
  • The decision to prosecute
  • Decisions above the DPP’s jurisdiction