The dutch prosecution service
The Dutch Public Prosecution Service has undergone major changes in recent decades. Public prosecutors were initially little more than intermediaries who delivered cases from the police to the judge, but the modernday public prosecutor has many tasks entrusted to him and wide-ranging responsibilities. The case-oriented magistrate who dealt with cases from behind his desk now actively operates outside the confines of his office, developing local crime policy and monitoring criminal investigations. However, in his original judicial role, the Dutch prosecutor remains a powerful player. Only he can bring criminal cases to court and determine the parameters of court proceedings. Prosecutors have gained discretion to settle more cases out of court. Prosecutors can offer settlements to suspects through which further prosecution is averted and, most recently, have gained authority to impose sanctions, so-called penal orders, for designated offenses without the involvement of a judge. Another important change is a computerized decision support system to determine appropriate sentences. The Dutch prosecutor is an increasingly central player in the criminal justice process.