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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.

Find out about current consultations and read the results of past consultations

CPS consults on changes to prosecution principles

29/01/2009

The Crown Prosecution Service has today launched a twelve week public consultation on the Code for Crown Prosecutors, the document which sets out the principles which prosecutors must follow when they decide whether or not to prosecute an individual.

The Code for Crown Prosecutors is applied in every case and it requires prosecutors to consider whether there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to charge individuals with criminal offences.

Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions said:

"The Code for Crown Prosecutors is fundamental to our role in deciding whether or not someone will be prosecuted. The decision to prosecute an individual is a serious step with serious implications. The Crown Prosecution Service exercises extensive powers on behalf of the public so it is important that people are informed about the principles we apply and that they give us their views."

The Code was last revised in 2004 and the CPS is consulting on changes to the Code that take account changes in law and practice.

The main changes are:

  • A reference to prosecutors interviewing witnesses in advance of a trial (pre-trial witness interviews)
  • Prosecutors having the discretion to stop a prosecution in the public interest, in exceptional circumstances, before all of the evidence is available
  • A clearer explanation of the Threshold Test, which is used for a limited time in cases where the suspect presents a substantial bail risk if released and not all the evidence is available at the time a decision regarding charge has to be made
  • An explanation of the role of the prosecutor in sentencing.

The consultation period ends on 23 April 2009 and a summary of the responses received will be published on the CPS website after that date.

Ends

  1. Copies of the draft Code for Crown Prosecutors and consultation document are available at this link: draft Code for Crown Prosecutors and consultation document
  2. At the end of the consultation period, responses will be considered and the sixth edition of the Code for Crown Prosecutors will be published later this year.
  3. The Director of Public Prosecutions is responsible for issuing a Code for Crown Prosecutors under section 10 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.
  4. There have been five editions of the Code. The last was issued in 2004.
  5. The principles in the Code must be applied throughout the duration of a prosecution in England and Wales from charge through to conviction or acquittal.
  6. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8180.
  7. The Crown Prosecution Service is the independent authority responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution
    • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute
    • Preparing cases for court
    • Presenting cases at court
  8. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,400 people and prosecuted 1,091,250 cases with an overall conviction rate of 85.1% in 2007-2008.

    More about the CPS

  9. 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.

    Publicity and the Criminal Justice System protocol