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We want to hear your views about our prosecution policy and so we conduct consultations to help inform our policy making.

Visit the consultations page to view the current and previous consultations

User Guide

The Purpose of Legal Guidance

This Legal Guidance is prepared by the Crown Prosecution Service. It provides guidance to prosecutors and paralegal staff in relation to many criminal offences and procedural issues. The Legal Guidance is used as an aid to guide Crown Prosecutors and Associate Prosecutors in the use of their discretion in making decisions in cases, and is subject to the principles as set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

Information which would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime, the apprehension or prosecution of offenders or the administration of justice is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act where the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. Therefore, small pieces of guidance will be for use of CPS staff only and will not appear in this guidance.

Reference to the Legal Guidance does not override the need for Crown Prosecutors to consider each case on its individual merits, and to take into account special circumstances when applying the principles set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

The Legal Guidance is not a substitute for any recognised legal textbook, such as Archbold, Blackstone's, Stone's Justices' Manual or Wilkinson's Road Traffic Offences. Crown Prosecutors and paralegal staff use these sources as well as the Legal Guidance in their work. Therefore, these are referred to at various places in the guidance. However, for contractual reasons, members of the public cannot gain access to these reference sources through this guidance.  It is not intended to provide legal advice to members of the public, nor does it replace the specialised advice of lawyers or other experts.

The Legal Guidance does not create any rights enforceable at law, in any legal proceedings.

The material in the Legal Guidance may be used without seeking permission, provided it is accurately reproduced and includes an acknowledgement of the Crown Prosecution Service, as its source. The Crown Prosecution Service does not take responsibility for the accuracy or reliability of reproduced material.

How to Use the Resource

The Legal Guidance resource is designed to be completely user friendly and easily navigable.

The easiest way to search is through our handy A-Z menu (on the left side of the page).  Simply think of the title of the Guidance you need and click on the appropriate letter. 

For example if you are looking for Road Traffic Offences - Click "R" for Road Traffic.  This will take you to a list of all the Guidance we have beginning with the letter R.  From there you can scroll through all the chapters referenced within R until you find 'Road Traffic Offences.'

Alternatively, you can search the Legal Guidance section alone.  In the top left hand corner, below the search box, select the button indicating "Legal Guidance only" and enter relevant search words.

With this search method it is important to consider the wording you are using to track down the required document.  Try to use words that are relevant to the information you require, ensure the spelling is accurate and try not to be too specific.