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Crown Prosecution Service Annual Report and Resource Accounts 2010 - 2011

Who we are

The CPS was set up in 1986 as an independent authority to prosecute criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. In undertaking this role, the CPS:

  • Advises the police during the early stages of investigations;
  • Determines the appropriate charges in more serious or complex cases;
  • Keeps all cases under continuous review and decides which cases should be prosecuted;
  • Prepares cases for prosecution and prosecutes cases using in-house advocates, self-employed advocates or agents to present cases in court; and
  • Provides information and assistance to victims and prosecution witnesses.
Image of the Old Bailey

Image of the Old Bailey

The way in which the CPS undertakes its role is governed by two key documents: the Code for Crown Prosecutors; and Core Quality Standards (CQS). The CQS lay down the quality of service that the public are entitled to expect from those who prosecute on their behalf. They apply to all those who deliver the prosecution service.

The CPS is headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The DPP is superintended by the Attorney General who is accountable to Parliament for the Service. The Chief Executive is responsible for running the business on a day-to-day basis, and for human resources, finance, business information systems, operations, and criminal justice policy, allowing the DPP to concentrate on casework, associated legal issues and legal policy.

The CPS is a national service that is delivered at a local level by 13 Areas across England and Wales. Each Area is led by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP) who is responsible for the provision of a high quality prosecution service in their Area. Each CCP is supported by an Area Business Manager (ABM), and their respective roles mirror the responsibilities of the DPP and the Chief Executive. Administrative support to Areas is provided by Area Operations Centres. A 'virtual' 14th Area, CPS Direct, is also headed by a CCP and Area Business Manager, and provides out-of-hours charging decisions to the police.

In addition, two specialist casework groups - Central Fraud Group and Serious Crime Group - deal with the prosecution of all cases investigated by Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the Serious & Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), and UK Border Agency (UKBA) as well as serious crime, terrorism, fraud and other challenging cases that require specialist experience.

Code for Crown Prosecutors

Before charging a defendant and proceeding with a prosecution, Crown Prosecutors must first review each case against the Code for Crown Prosecutors. The Code sets out the principles the CPS applies when carrying out its work. Those principles are whether:

  • There is enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against each defendant on each charge; and, if so,
  • A prosecution is needed in the public interest.

The Director is under a statutory duty to publish the Code for Crown Prosecutors. The sixth edition of the Code was published in February 2010.