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Prosecuting Terrorism

Terrorism, race hate, crimes against humanity, war crimes, violent extremism, hijacking and espionage cases are tackled by a specialist team of Crown Prosecutors. The Counter Terrorism Division of the CPS includes highly experienced prosecutors, advocates and caseworkers who work closely with the police to bring offenders to justice.

Find out more about how we prosecute cases of terrorism.

Decision to Charge

Once the Police have completed their investigations, they will refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on how to proceed. We will then make a decision on whether a suspect should be charged, and what that charge should be.

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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

Neil Lewington convicted of terrorism and explosives offences


Neil Lewington, who was convicted today at the Central Criminal Court of terrorism and explosives offences, was on the point of carrying out a campaign of terrorism in the UK against those he regarded as 'non-British', said Crown Prosecution Service Counter Terrorism Division reviewing lawyer Bethan David.

Ms David said: "While holding racist beliefs is not a crime, however distasteful they may be to most people, planning and preparing to attack or terrorise people with explosive devices is a criminal act, and the CPS will robustly prosecute anyone who acts in such a way.

"This case also clearly demonstrates that we will use terrorism legislation to prosecute where it is appropriate to do so according to the facts of the case, no matter what the background or motivation of the defendant."

Searches of the holdall Neil Lewington was carrying when he was arrested, and later of his home, uncovered explosive devices and bomb-making equipment, the court was told, as well as a document called 'Waffen SS UK Members Handbook'. This included statements of intent that demonstrated Neil Lewingtons fanaticism and bomb recipes.

Ms David said:  "The material collected during the investigation, coupled with the nature of the devices that he had made, convinced us that Neil Lewington was a real threat not just to the people that he was targeting but to anyone in the vicinity, had he succeeded in detonating his bombs.

"He had an interest in bombers with similar motivations, like David Copeland, who held neo-Nazi beliefs and used improvised explosive devices during a campaign of nail bombings in London, and Timothy McVeigh, who was responsible for the Oklahoma bomb. He had the knowledge and the will to cause destruction, injury and death."


  1. Neil Lewington was charged with eight counts:
    • Preparation for acts of terrorism (S.5 (1) Terrorism Act 2006),
    • 2 x Possessing articles for terrorism (S.57 (1) Terrorism Act 2000),
    • 2 x Possessing documents or records (S.58 (1)(b) Terrorism Act 2000),
    • Possessing explosive substances with intent (S.3 (1)(b) Explosive Substances Act 1883),
    • Collecting information useful to someone preparing an act of terrorism (S.58 (1)(a) Terrorism Act 2000) and
    • Possessing explosives (S.3 Explosive Substances Act 1883)
  2. He was found guilty on all charges except collecting information useful to someone preparing an act of terrorism, on which he was acquitted.
  3. The maximum sentence for Preparation for Acts of Terrorism and Possessing Explosive Substances with Intent is life imprisonment.
  4. Media enquiries by email :CPS Press Office or by phone: 020 7710 6091, Out of hours pager: 07699 781926.
  5. 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
  6. 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.

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  7. 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