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The Role of The Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service is the government department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales.

As the principal prosecuting authority in England and Wales, we are responsible for:

  • advising the police on cases for possible prosecution
  • reviewing cases submitted by the police
  • determining any charges in more serious or complex cases
  • preparing cases for court
  • presenting cases at court

Find out more about the role of the Crown Prosecution Service

Prosecuting Homicide

Murder and manslaughter are two of the offences that constitute homicide.

Manslaughter can be committed in one of three ways:

  1. killing with the intent for murder but where there is provocation, diminished responsibility or a suicide pact.
  2. conduct that was grossly negligent given the risk of death, and resulted in death.
  3. conduct, taking the form of an unlawful act involving a danger of some harm, that caused death.

With some exceptions, the crime of murder is committed, where a person:

  • of sound mind and discretion (i.e. sane):
  • unlawfully kills (i.e. not self-defence or other justified killing)
  • any reasonable creature (human being)
  • in being (born alive and breathing through its own lungs)
  • under the Queen's Peace
  • with intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.

There are other specific homicide offences, for example, infanticide, causing death by dangerous driving, and corporate manslaughter.

Find out more about prosecuting homicide

CPS stops prosecution for 1987 killing of Daniel Morgan

11/03/2011

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has decided that the prosecution of three men for the killing of private detective Daniel Morgan in 1987 cannot continue.

Alison Saunders, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London, said:

"Daniel Morgan was brutally killed 24 years ago. When we authorised charges against five men in April 2008 in relation to his death, we knew this would be a challenging prosecution because of both the passage of time and the amount of material, more than 750,000 pages, which needed to be considered for disclosure to the defence. Material that could assist the defence or undermine the prosecution must be disclosed. 

"We were, until yesterday, satisfied that there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. However, we must continuously review prosecutions to ensure that it is both fair and appropriate that they continue. We no longer believe this prosecution should continue.

"In December 2009, the police revealed a large amount of material to us that had not been considered for disclosure before. There was then considerable legal argument on whether it was possible for the case to proceed. Officers assured the court that there was no further unconsidered material. The judge was considering this matter when, on Friday 4 March 2011, the police revealed further material that had not been previously considered.

"We have decided that a prosecution cannot continue in these circumstances. We cannot be confident that the defence necessarily have all of the material that they are entitled to. This point would be raised by the defence during any trial, so we are no longer satisfied that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.    

"This decision has been taken by the CPS with the advice of senior counsel. Daniel Morgan's family was also consulted before this decision was taken. This has been a long and difficult ordeal for the family, and we have offered them our heartfelt sympathies."

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. The CPS authorised charges against five men in April 2008 - a joint charge of murder against William (Jonathan) Rees, Glen Vian, Gary Vian and James Cook and a charge of perverting the course of justice against Sidney Fillery. However, the cases against Cook and Fillery had already been discontinued at an earlier stage in the proceedings.
  2. Three prosecution witnesses were subject to agreements under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) 2005.
  3. The case against Sidney Fillery relied entirely upon the evidence of a SOCPA witness that was ruled inadmissible by the court in February 2010. We then offered no evidence against him for perverting the course of justice.
  4. The case against James Cook relied upon the evidence of three witnesses, including the evidence of the SOCPA witness that the court had ruled inadmissible. We carefully considered whether it was possible to continue with the evidence of the other two witnesses, including another SOCPA witness, but decided it was not possible in November 2010. 
  5. It emerged in December 2010 that material that could have assisted the defence concerning the prosecution's remaining SOCPA witnesses and should have been disclosed by the police had been lost. Although we could no longer use this witness's evidence against the remaining three defendants, we were satisfied the prosecution could continue. 
  6. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  7. The DPP has set out what the public can expect from the CPS in the Core Quality Standards document published in March 2010.
  8. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). These are organised into 12 Groups, plus CPS London, each overseen by Group Chair, a senior CCP. In addition there are four specialised national divisions: Central Fraud Group, Counter-Terrorism, Organised Crime and Special Crime. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales.
  9. The CPS employs around 8,316 people and prosecuted 982,731 cases with a conviction rate of 86.8% in the magistrates' courts and 80.7% in the Crown Court in 2009-20010. Further information can be found on the CPS website
  10. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media