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CPS Audit Committee - Terms of Reference

Constitution

The Crown Prosecution Ssrvice (CPS) Audit Committee has been established by the Accounting Officer and Additional Accounting Officer, and reports to the Accounting Officers through the Board.

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Membership

The Board appoints the committee. It is chaired by a non-executive member of the Board and comprises the Chair, another non-executive and three CPS members (HQ Director, Chief Crown Prosecutor and Area Business Manager).

A minimum of three members will be present for the meeting to be deemed quorate. Members are personally accountable for attending the committee and deputies will not be acceptable.

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Attendance at meetings

The Finance Director, the Head of Internal Audit, representatives of the Internal Audit service, and representatives of the External Auditors and the National Audit Office (NAO) shall attend meetings at the invitation of the committee.

At least once a year, the committee may wish to meet with the external and internal auditors on its own.

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Access

The Head of Internal Audit and the representative of External Audit will have free and confidential access to the Chair of the committee.

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Frequency of meetings

The committee will meet at least four times a year to:

  • agree the annual audit plan (February)
  • consider and endorse the Head of Internal Audit's draft Annual Report to the Accounting Officers and the Board, and agree and endorse the Final Statement of Internal Control to the Board (April)
  • review and consider NAO observations on the annual accounts and sign off the final Head of Internal Audit's Annual Report (July)
  • review progress of plans, major developments and departmental control initiatives mid-year (October). Plan internal audit/external co-operation for next year ending 31 March.

External auditors or internal auditors may request a meeting if they consider that one is necessary.

The Chair of the committee may convene additional meetings as they deem necessary.

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Authority

The committee is authorised by the Board to:

  • investigate any activity within its terms of reference
  • seek any information that it requires from any employee of the CPS and all employees are directed to co-operate with any request made by the committee
  • obtain outside legal or independent professional advice. Such advisors may attend meetings as necessary.

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Responsibilities

The responsibilities of the committee can be divided into:

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Internal control and corporate governance

  • reviewing the systems and process of internal control and governance. This includes reviewing management's and the internal auditors' reports on the effectiveness of systems for internal control, governance and risk management
  • evaluating the control environment
  • advising the Accounting Officers and the Board on risk, business priorities and risk management needs and reporting to them specific concerns and issues, e.g. where business risks are being carried inappropriately
  • reviewing the procedures for handling allegations from whistleblowers
  • reviewing and challenging, where necessary, the actions and judgements of management in relation to the interim and annual financial statements, paying particular attention to:
    • critical accounting policies and practices and changes to them
    • decisions requiring a major element of judgement
    • the extent to which financial statements are affected by any unusual transactions in the year
    • significant adjustments resulting from the audit
    • External Audit's management letter
    • the signing off of the Statement of Internal Control
    • the follow up to Public Accounts Committee (PAC) reports.

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Internal Audit

  • reviewing the Internal Audit programme and ensuring that the Internal Audit function is adequately resourced and there are adequate arrangements for Internal Audit within the CPS that reflect the requirements of Government Internal Audit Standards (GIAS)
  • endorsing the role, responsibilities and authority of the Head of Internal Audit and approving the Internal Audit Charter
  • receiving and reviewing Internal Audit progress reports
  • reviewing action taken by management on audit recommendations
  • reviewing and endorsing the Head of Internal Audit's annual assurance report.

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External Audit

  • reviewing the External Audit strategy and plan
  • reviewing the External Audit management letters and managements' response
  • reviewing the performance of the External Audit
  • ensuring effective co-ordination and liaison between internal and external audit including the NAO.

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Standing agenda items

For each meeting these will include:

  • a report summarising any significant changes to the organisation's risk register
  • a progress report from the external auditors summarising work done and emerging findings
  • a progress report from the Head of Internal Audit summarising:
    • work performed compared with work planned
    • key issues emerging from Internal Audit work
    • management response to audit recommendations
    • changes to the annual audit plan
    • any resourcing issues affecting the delivery of Internal Audit objectives.

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Reporting procedures

The Secretary to the committee (who will be provided by the Internal Audit Unit) will circulate the minutes of meetings of the committee to all members of the CPS Board. The Chairman of the committee shall attend Board meetings to provide reports on the work of the committee.

Committee members shall conduct an annual review of their work and these Terms of Reference and make recommendations to the Board.

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