2011-09-15, London, United Kingdom. The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 that amended several acts including the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 received Royal Assent and became law. Under the amendment, judges hearing criminal complaints filed by private parties can no longer issue warrants without the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Previously, a magistrate court judge could issue a warrant of arrest on the basis of an information (criminal complaint) filed by a private party. This procedure was a powerful tool for human rights advocates as it allowed them to obtain arrest warrants against alleged human rights violators without the consent of the government. The amendment came into force almost two years after former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had to cancel her trip to London because of an arrest warrant issued in this manner. Following that incident, the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised to change the law.