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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

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Successful prosecutions for violence against women and girls up by 6,500 cases in 2010-11

22/11/2011

The Crown Prosecution Service is successfully prosecuting more cases than ever of offences of violence against women and girls.

As the CPS publishes its Violence against Women and Girls Crime Report for 2010-11, Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC said: "Outcomes in cases of violence against women and girls are continuing to improve, and I am determined that the CPS will continue the trend."

The report shows that the CPS has, year on year, improved its handling of cases of violence against women and girls (VAWG) in terms of both quality and quantity. Since 2006-07, prosecutions have risen from just under 69,000 to 95,000 - an increase of 38 per cent. As the number of cases has increased, the level of convictions has been maintained.

Mr Starmer said: "Crimes against women include some of the most pernicious and degrading offences that we prosecute. It is important for victims of these crimes that we continue to improve the service that we deliver, both within the CPS and with our partners in the criminal justice system.

"We are also getting much better at building cases with the police, and we have seen a significant increase in the numbers of guilty pleas which not only means cases are dealt with more quickly, but the victim is spared the ordeal of giving evidence in court. The number of guilty pleas per year has risen from 38,495 to 60,352."

Mr Starmer said that 2010-11 was a busy year which included issuing new guidance on stalking and harassment and consulting widely on guidance relating to cases of perverting the course of justice for retraction of rape allegations.

The CPS is taking clear steps to ensure that domestic abuse cases among young people are handled by prosecutors in the most effective way possible.

Mr Starmer said: "I want to make sure improvements are also being made on cases involving both young defendants and victims. That is why we will now be consulting with young people's charities to raise awareness among young people themselves that this is criminal behaviour that may be prosecuted."

The report also shows that the measures introduced to quality assure prosecutions are having an effect. In 2010, Core Quality Standards were introduced and published to lay down the quality of service the public can expect from the CPS and a VAWG assurance mechanism has been introduced to help in monitoring the quality of case handling and continue improving consistently across the service.

Mr Starmer said: "While this is good news for victims, we are not complacent. We know we can continue to improve and we have the measures in place in the CPS to deliver that improvement. We are showing encouraging signs of a further drop in unsuccessful cases of rape and domestic violence in the first six months of this year and we will be looking to build on that improvement."

Diana Barran, Chief Executive of Coordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA) said: "The 2010-11 report demonstrates that the CPS has become much better at prosecuting all forms of domestic abuse. It is encouraging to see the rise in cases going to court, the increased conviction rates and the overall focus on improved quality. The CPS recognises the important role that Independent Domestic Violence Advisors play in securing successful outcomes in domestic violence cases, and their openness to working with the voluntary sector is commendable."

Jennifer Mcdermott, of the The Cassandra Learning Centre, said: "We welcome the CPS's commitment to improving conviction rates in teenage domestic violence cases and, with 30 per cent of defendants in domestic violence cases being under the age of 24, we are thankful that this issue is being acknowledged.

"CLC also recognises the work the CPS has done on progressing cases after retractions may have been made - something of real concern in teen DV cases. We very much welcome the upcoming CPS research on the subject of violence in teenage relationships. It is important to examine the impact of physical, sexual and emotional violence on young people and develop appropriate solutions."

Ends

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 report is available on the CPS website at: http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/docs/CPS_VAW_report_2011.pdf
  3. The DPP has set out what the public can expect from the CPS in the Core Quality Standards document published in March 2010.
  4. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three specialised national divisions: Central Fraud Group, Special Crime and Counter-Terrorism, and Organised Crime. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales.
  5. 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.
  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. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.