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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

CPS to revise complaints handling procedure


An independent report into the way the Crown Prosecution Services handles complaints is a careful and constructive analysis, which will help the CPS improve its service, said the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Keir Starmer QC said the CPS had already identified a programme of improvement that would address the issues raised in the HMCPS Inspectorate report.

Mr Starmer said: "We accept the report's findings that, although areas of good practice exist in the CPS, there are several aspects which need improvement. We intend to take the Inspectorate's recommendations on board and develop a new approach which will represent a cultural shift.

"It is absolutely vital that members of the public who want to raise issues about any aspect of the service we provide should find the process as simple and accessible as we can make it. Once a complaint is received, it must be dealt with as effectively as possible."

"A good complaints procedure reflects a confident, outward-looking organisation. We will review our whole complaints procedure to achieve this so that it is both contemporary and transparent. Changes will include easier accessibility, greater clarity around what the public can expect, more structured learning from feedback, and more training and guidance to front line staff."

The Inspectorate report found that the CPS met Cabinet Office Best Practice measurements for speed, confidentiality, effectiveness in dealing with points raised and, in principle, monitoring and auditing. It did not fully meet the measures for ease of access, simplicity, informativeness and fair and full investigation.

Key elements of the CPS's improvement programme will include:

  • A review of complaints publications to ensure they are accessible and suitable for all potential users and improvements to CPS websites so that users can submit feedback more easily;
  • Complaints policy and guidance will be revised to reflect current best practice, explain our commitment to the public in simple terms and ensure the system is transparent and effective;
  • Greater clarity around the definition of a complaint, when a formal process is activated, and who should be involved at each stage, so that investigations are effective, proportionate, and outcome focused. The effectiveness of the current timescales will also be reviewed;
  • A detailed structure for monitoring and analysing feedback from the public
  • Comprehensive training for relevant front line staff and witness care unit staff
  • Consideration of options for independent oversight of complaints handling for non-prosecutorial decisions.


  1. Media enquiries by email :CPS Press Office or by phone: 020 7796 8127 or 8102, Out of hours pager: 07699 781926.
  2. 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
  3. 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

  4. 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