7 May 2024

ACT's first female Director of Public Prosecutions, Victoria Engel, starts work after historic appointment

| Albert McKnight
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Victoria Engel SC

Victoria Engel SC is the ACT’s first female Director of Public Prosecutions. Photo: Supplied.

The first woman to become the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the ACT has started work (6 May).

In March 2024, Victoria Engel SC was announced as Shane Drumgold SC’s replacement in the top job after the latter resigned in August 2023 following the fallout from last year’s Board of Inquiry.

Since his resignation, the role had been filled by Anthony Williamson SC as acting director.

Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said Ms Engel was appointed after a competitive recruitment process and brought legal acumen and public prosecution experience in various jurisdictions and contexts to her new role.

“I am confident in Ms Engel’s ability to serve our community well and to support our criminal justice system,” he said.

Ms Engel started with the NSW Legal Aid Commission as a law clerk before joining the NSW DPP’s office in 2007.

She was a Crown prosecutor and appeared in more than 40 trials. She then worked in the United Kingdom as a senior solicitor with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and a prosecutor with the National Probation Trust.

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She has also been the deputy director and principal Crown prosecutor with the Northern Territory DPP, where she led substantial changes in the management of sexual assault cases.

She was the president of the Australian Association of Crown Prosecutors earlier in 2024.

“Her wealth of experience, dedication to public service and commitment to justice will be invaluable to the Territory,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“Ms Engel’s substantial experience, both at home and abroad, is a tremendous asset to the ACT.

“Her demonstrated ability to navigate complex cases and lead transformative change make her an ideal fit for this critical role.”

Ms Engel said she was delighted to be starting in the role.

“I am committed to working with ACT Policing and other independent bodies to ensure a fair system for all,” she said.

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After it was announced that she had won the top job in March, the ACT Bar Association welcomed her appointment.

“Ms Engel SC’s experience and qualifications make her well suited to appointment as the Director of Public Prosecutions for the ACT,” Bar Association president Brodie Buckland said.

“Prosecutors make up a significant proportion of the membership of the Bar Association and, as the new DPP, I look forward to working with Ms Engel SC on matters of mutual interest and concern to the DPP’s office and the criminal defence bar.

“I also wish to thank and acknowledge Anthony Williamson SC, who stepped into the role of DPP at short notice and has provided consistent, considered leadership since his appointment as Acting DPP. His dedication and service have not gone unnoticed and should be acknowledged.”

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“Ms Engel’s substantial experience, both at home and abroad, is a tremendous asset to the ACT”.

I wholeheartedly agree!

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