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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 announces first advocacy assessment system

25/06/2009

A national system of advocacy assessment was announced today by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC. In an update on the progress of the CPS Advocacy Strategy, he also released the first detailed figures showing the savings the strategy has produced.

Mr Starmer said: "The delivery of high quality advocacy is a mark of a modern public prosecution service and therefore I am determined that quality will be at the heart of the advocacy service the CPS provides. We will achieve this with the introduction of the Advocacy Quality Management Strategy that will monitor performance and target training.  I am delighted the CPS is leading the legal profession with this development.

"Our advocacy strategy also ensures public money is being spent wisely.
Four years ago the CPS saved around £413,000 by conducting its own hearings in the Crown Courts.  The savings have now risen to £11.5 million in the last financial year. In the current economic climate, saving money is essential. Before deciding to deploy a CPS advocate, my Chief Crown Prosecutors carefully consider the advocacy skills each case will demand and all other relevant factors to achieve value for money.

Mr Starmer added: "Aside from these benefits, the CPS is working closely with the Legal Services Commission to bring about a consistent approach to grading and assessing all publicly funded criminal advocates so that the public will be assured of good quality advocacy across the criminal justice system.

"In-house advocacy brings about improvement across the board in the services the CPS provides to the public, the police and the courts. It improves the quality of our advice to the police about investigations, improves our charging decisions, contributes to better witness care and has significantly broadened the career opportunities open to our current and future staff."

The CPS Advocacy Quality Management Strategy will be implemented by a network of internally appointed, dedicated assessors located throughout the 15 CPS groups in England and Wales. They will be supplemented by independent external assessors who will ensure objectivity and consistency in the process by undertaking their own assessments and will also quality assure the performance of the internal assessors.

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Background

  1. The CPS first established a programme to deploy in-house advocates throughout all courts and the full range of cases in April 2005.
  2. In July 2008 the CPS introduced an advocacy grading system for crown advocates closely aligned to the system the CPS already used to grade members of the self-employed Bar who are instructed in prosecution work.
  3. In December 2008 the DPP indicated his support for a set of common standards for all criminal advocates whether in-house or external, defence or prosecution.
  4. Work has already begun with the Legal Services Commission to converge their proposed Quality Assurance Scheme (QAA) with the CPS Advocacy Quality Management Strategy by summer 2010.
  5. A converged scheme would share the following common features:
    • Common levels (1-4)
    • Common/comparable core competencies
    • Common/comparable assessment methods
  6. The CPS is involved with the QAA pilots currently underway including in London, Birmingham, Winchester and Cardiff.
  7. CPS advocate costs include:
    • Salary and associated costs including employers' pension contributions.
    • The costs of IT, travel, training and other overhead costs.
  8. CPS advocate costs exclude fixed costs such as accommodation.
  9. The systems and processes for calculating savings were developed using independent consultancy and have been subject to audit review.

Full details of the cost considerations governing the deployment of advocates is available here.

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  1. Media enquiries by email :CPS Press Office or by phone: 020 7710 6091, 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