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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 opens Advocate Panels application scheme


The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is today launching a new scheme for the delivery of prosecution services in court. All advocates undertaking prosecution work in the Crown Court (and Higher Courts) from October must be members of new, quality-controlled CPS Advocate Panels.

The panels will be open to all barristers and solicitor advocates, and panel members will complement and work alongside CPS in-house advocates. Although the overall number of advocates on the panels will be reduced compared to the current lists, selected advocates will have more opportunity to undertake prosecution work.

All current counsel lists will be abandoned when the panels commence on 1 October. The regional panels, which will mirror the legal circuits, will operate for three years. Application packs are available from and must be submitted to by 31 May.

The panels will provide the CPS with quality-assured advocates who have been fairly assessed to ensure they are undertaking work that matches their level of ability, knowledge and experience.

Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said:

"This is a turning point for the delivery of advocacy by the Crown Prosecution Service. My overriding priority is ensuring that every aspect of prosecution work is held to a high and measurable standard. Advocate Panels are a crucial step in this direction.

"All advocates who apply for a place on the panel will be fairly assessed against an open set of criteria. For those who succeed, there will be more opportunities to undertake prosecution work in the future and further develop their expertise in criminal law.

"It is vital that all advocates interested in working on our behalf apply for a panel before 31 May. Any who fail to do so will be denied the opportunity to undertake prosecution work.

"Any applicants who are not successful can receive constructive feedback on aspects of their performance, which will assist them in raising their advocacy to the required standard."

The Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, QC MP, said:

"I congratulate the Bar Council and the Crown Prosecution Service for working together to bring about the Advocate Panel scheme. The scheme will not only give advocate appointees an important opportunity to gain experience of criminal prosecution work, but will signify excellence in advocacy with a clear focus on quality."

The panels will cover the full range of CPS Crown Court work across all Areas and casework divisions, including extradition, serious crime, proceeds of crime and fraud.


Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. The DPP has set out what the public can expect from the CPS in the Core Quality Standards document published in March 2010.
  3. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). These are organised into 12 Groups, plus CPS London, each overseen by Group Chair, a senior CCP. In addition there are four specialised national divisions: Central Fraud Group, Counter-Terrorism, Organised Crime and Special Crime. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales.
  4. The CPS employs around 8,316 people and prosecuted 982,731 cases with a conviction rate of 86.8% in the magistrates' courts and 80.7% in the Crown Court in 2009-20010. Further information can be found on the CPS website
  5. 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. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media