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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

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Attorney General's Office news release - CPS proves to be a good performer in Government's Capability Review


The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has made huge progress over the last few years, according to the Capability Review - published by the Cabinet Office today, 22nd June 2007. The Capability Review also places the CPS in a good position on the list of Whitehall departments evaluated by this review process.

In particular the review has pointed to the accomplishments the CPS has made around;

  • Charging - where prosecutors determine the charge in all but minor cases
  • No Witness No Justice - which established 165 witness care Units across England and Wales
  • In-house advocacy - where CPS lawyers present their own cases in all courts
  • Community engagement where the CPS has worked with communities to improve the conviction rate in relation to hate crimes and domestic violence

The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith QC said, "Today's report shows that the vision I had for the CPS six years ago has been realised. Real progress has been made; and this transformation has been made not just through changes to policy and practice but due to the dedication and hard work of CPS staff. Through fundamental change, giving prosecutors the ability to make charging decisions, enhancing their work with victims and with witnesses and working with the communities they serve they are gradually becoming the victim's champion. The report does point us in the right direction to continue this change and make sure that we are making even more improvements in the places that need it most".

The Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Ken Macdonald QC said, "I am delighted that this report recognises the considerable progress the CPS has made over the past few years. In many ways, this is an organisation that has transformed itself - taking responsibility for charging, ensuring that its lawyers present their own cases in all courts, and helping to establish dedicated Witness Care Units across England and Wales. The challenge for us now is to continue that transformation, to continue engaging with communities to ensure that they, victims, witnesses and the public as a whole, are at the heart of everything that we do."

Whilst the findings of the Capability Review are largely positive and point to the progress the CPS has made, it does also recognise that there are areas with room for improvement. Those areas, which the CPS is committed to focusing on are fostering pride in staff in all areas of the business, focusing on an overarching strategy on public service outcomes, defining the meaning of 'national service, locally delivered' to everybody within the organisation, developing the talent and capabilities of the CPS's people, for now and for the future and making performance management of delivery real for everyone.

For media enquiries contact Charlotte Phillips, Senior Press Officer, on 020 7271 2465 or

  1. The Capability Review Programme is part of the wider Civil Service reform agenda. It will lead to a Civil Service which is better at delivering public services. The aims of the reviews are to:


    • improve the capability of the Civil Service to meet today's delivery objectives and be ready for the challenges of tomorrow;
    • assure the public and ministers that the Civil Service leadership is equipped to develop and deliver departmental strategies; and
    • help departments act on long term key development areas and therefore provide assurance on future delivery.

    The reviews provide an assessment of capability for departments, identify key areas for improvement and set out key actions.

  2. The CPS's Capability Review is published at 10 am on Friday 22nd June. The report in its entirety is available on the Civil Service website - CPS Capability Review
  3. The Attorney General superintends the Crown Prosecution Service and represents them at a government ministerial level, along with the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office and Serious Fraud Office.
  4. 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, it is responsible for:

    Advising the police on cases for possible prosecution.

    Reviewing cases submitted by the police.

    Where the decision is to prosecute, determine the charge in all but minor cases.

    Preparing cases for court.

    Presentation of cases at court.

  5. The CPS Vision - The CPS is working to become a world-class, independent prosecuting authority that delivers a valued public service by:


    • Strengthening the prosecution process to bring offenders to justice: providing an independent prosecution service, working with the police from the outset of a case to its disposal; advising the police before charge; building and testing the strongest possible prosecution case and presenting that case fairly in the courts on behalf of the public
    • Championing justice and the rights of victims: assessing the needs of victims and witnesses and their likely evidence from the outset and throughout the life of the case; making sure their experience of the CPS and the CJS encourages them and others to come forward in future to play their part in bringing offenders to justice.
    • Inspiring the confidence of the communities we serve: being visible, open and accountable for our decisions; being responsive to the needs of the community and providing a valuable public service; being seen as the decision-makers who decide which cases should be brought to court and bringing them to justice
    • Driving change and delivery in the Criminal Justice System: as a self-confident leader; influential in delivering local criminal justice and in shaping the CJS of the future
    • Being renowned for fairness, excellent career opportunities and the commitment and skills of all our people: where everyone is treated on merit; where people of ability can rise to the top and where all our people are renowned for their commitment, skills and dedication to justice
    • Having a strong capability to deliver: by transforming HQ support to frontline delivery; securing value for money and efficiences to reinvest in frontline prosecution services; inproving the management of prosecution costs; harnessing IT to support CPS business; and delivering through effective programme and project management.
  6. The CPS is the largest "law firm" in the UK, dealing exclusively with criminal cases. At the end of December 2006, we employed a total of 8,536 people. They include 2,898 prosecutors and 4,991 caseworkers and administrators. More than 92% of all staff are engaged in, or support, frontline prosecutions.
  7. The CPS Capability Review Provisional Implementation Plan is available on this website as Adobe Acrobat PDF.