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How to use the Crown Prosecution Service

What is the Crown Prosecution Service?

The CPS works autonomously as a legal agency in charge of preparing and presenting UK criminal prosecutions. As the prosecutor for the public, it has a close relationship with the police, courts along with other criminal justice agencies. The CPS advises the police about future prosecutions and is in charge of the police-initiated prosecutions.

The DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) is the head of the CPS justice system. The Attorney General appoints the DPP, and is accountable for the CPS performance to Parliament. The current DPP (2012) is known as Keir Starmer QC. 


Brief Background

The CPS came up under the 1985 Act of Offense Prosecution, following the Criminal Procedure Royal Commission’s findings, under the chairmanship of Sir Cyril Philips and published in the year 1981.

It was established to counterbalance the increased police authority as per the 1984 Act for Criminal Evidence and Police Powers, and brought Wales and England in the same page as Scotland-where there is an autonomous procurator fiscal- in making their prosecution service independent.

The Act in 1985 itself was as a result of a chain of reports between the late 70s and early 80s, which recommended the separation of the functions of prosecuting and investigating crime. Under this Act, a Crown Prosecutors Code states that the CPS must make consistent and fair decisions on the basis of a public policy and evidential sufficiency two level test.

In 2000, a revised Crown Prosecutors Code was published to meet the requirements stated in the 1998 Act for Human Rights Act.

As it was recommended in the 1998 Glidewell Report, there was a re-arrangement of CPS, creating 42 areas from the original 13, to match the police service structure.

The Spending Review of 2010 led to further revision of that structure. This will lead to an actual cut in the CPS budget by 25% between 2011-12 and 2014-15. Efficiency savings which were introduced entailed moving the headquarters in London to cheaper premises and bringing back the structure of 13 areas.

When You Want Services in Your Locality

Know who to approach

The geographical Areas are each under the CCP (Chief Crown Prosecutor), who is in charge of the Area prosecution service. The CPPs are supported by ABMs (Area Business Manager).

The Area CPS Direct is an extra virtual one, also under a CCP, and gives out-of-hours decisions on charging to law enforcement.

The Serious Crimes and Central Fraud groups are expert groups that handle every prosecution of cases under the investigation of the Organized and Serious Crime Agency, United Kingdom Borders Agency as well as Her Majesty's Customs and Revenue. The Serious Offenses Group is divided into two – Counter Terrorism and Organized Crime.

In the month of January (2010), the CPS joined the RCPO (Revenue and Customs Prosecutions) and came up with a new service for public prosecutions.  Keir Starmer now became both the DPP and DRCP (Director of Revenue and Customs Prosecutions). There was now a single structure for management and every RCPO staff member becomes a CPS employee.

Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate is an autonomous organization in charge of assessing, inspecting as well as making reports on the CPS operations.

The CPS works towards enhancing the process of prosecution and effectively, fairly and firmly bringing criminals to justice.

When You Need Legal Guidance

The CPS prepares Legal Guidance, which guides paralegals and prosecutors on various procedural matters and criminal offences. It also guides Associate Prosecutors and Crown Prosecutors in using their discretion to make case decisions. It follows the principles stated in the Crown Prosecutors Code. You are allowed free usage and re-usage of information from the Code, in exclusion of logos for free in the medium or format of your choice. The copyright page offers more information. Our website has publications from other agencies too. You should check the regulations on directly copying those publications from the concerned publishing agencies.

When You are a Victim and Witness

Our main aim is to champion justice as well as effectively, fairly and firmly protect the victims’ rights.

What happens when you are a Victim or Witness?

It is quite difficult when you are a crime witness or victim. But they are important in bringing criminals to justice. We will respect and support you through the whole justice process.

We will explain to you what happens from the time a crime is reported to the time the sentence is passed, how Crown Prosecution works as well as what we can do for you..

Victims' Right to Review

The CPS introduced the Scheme for Victims’ Review Rights, assisting the victims in appealing the CPS decision easily and to terminate proceedings or failing to make charges.

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