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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

Chief Inspector praises Hampshire staff

12/07/2004

The head of the CPS Inspectorate has praised staff and managers of CPS Hampshire and the Isle of Wight for improving the Area's performance.

Chief Inspector Stephen Wooler said the Area's progress since it was last inspected in 2000 was pleasing.

"These improvements have been made against a background of demanding change in both the CPS nationally and the criminal justice system as a whole. That is to the credit of staff and managers," he added.

Returning to the Area earlier this year, inspectors found significant improvements in the handling of Crown Court casework. Although casework in the magistrates' courts was generally satisfactory, they said more could be done to improve the quality and timeliness of preparation for summary trial.

According to their report, review decisions prior to the first date of hearing were generally sound.

So, too, were decisions to discontinue proceedings, although timeliness was variable and sometimes led to cases being dropped at a late stage on the day of trial.

The quality of review at committal was generally sound but there was scope for improvement. In the file sample, additional evidence had been requested in only three-quarters or so of the cases where it should have been.

Efficient case-handling after committal and good liaison with the Crown Court helped ensure cases were generally trial-ready when listed.

Compliance with disclosure was generally carried out in a proper manner, although it could be timelier in the magistrates' court, said the report.

In child abuse, racial incident and youth cases, CPS policy was correctly applied. The handling of victim withdrawals in domestic violence cases, however, was not always consistent.

The quality of CPS advocacy was variable but there had been major improvements in the Area's ability to deliver the right files to magistrates' court on time.

Witness care at court was generally good, although more could have been done to avoid unnecessary witness attendance at magistrates' courts.

There was also scope for improvement in the timeliness and quality of communications to victims about changes or discontinuance of charge.

The Area had developed strengths in a number of aspects of staff management, training and development, communication and equality and diversity.

However, systems to ensure appropriate staffing levels in each unit needed to be developed.

The inspectors made six recommendations, including proposals that the Area apply CPS best practice on custody time limits and undertake full compliance with the Direct Communication with Victims standard.

In response to the findings, CCP Nick Hawkins said: "As the new CCP of this Area, I am delighted with the many positives highlighted in this report.

"I am privileged to lead over 200 dedicated staff who will work with me to implement changes and systems to improve on the weaker areas identified."