Advanced Search

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

CPS decides not to refer hunting cases to House of Lords


The Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to appeal to the House of Lords following a judgement on two hunting cases made in the High Court, which included clarification of the term "hunts" in the Hunting Act 2004.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, QC, said: "The fact that the CPS has decided not to take this to the House of Lords does not mean that there will be no more prosecutions under the Hunting Act.

"On the contrary, where there are allegations that the law has been broken, the CPS will continue to work with the police to build cases and decide whether there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute, as we normally do.

"We have considered the High Court judgement carefully and sought counsel's advice and have decided that the rulings should be accepted and no further appeal be made.

"Having made this decision, we will now be reviewing those cases going through the system which have been waiting on the High Court judgement to see what impact, if any, it may have."


  1. Media enquiries and interview requests by email :CPS Press Office or by phone: 020 7796 8180, Out of hours pager: 07699 781926.
  2. The joined cases before the High Court were R v Anthony Wright and R v Scott, Heard and Summersgill. The judgement was handed down on 4 February 2009.
  3. The High Court ruling, briefly, said:
    1. the word "hunt" did not include searching for the animal for the purpose of stalking or flushing;
    2. the onus is now on the prosecution to prove the defendant was not covered by an exemption under the act and the defendant now has to raise their defence which the prosecution will have to disprove so the magistrates or district judge are satisfied an offence has been committed.
  4. 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
  5. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition there are four specialised national divisions: Organised Crime, Special Crime, Counter-Terrorism and the Fraud Prosecution Service. 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. Further information can be found on our website.

    More about the CPS

  6. 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