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Crimes involving young people

Young people as victims and witnesses

Being a victim or a witness to a crime is not easy, but we work hard to bring offenders to justice. Throughout the justice process we will support young victims and witnesses and treat them with dignity.

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Youth crime

The Crown Prosecution Service acts in partnership with other agencies such as the police, the youth justice board, children's services, courts and youth offending teams. Each area of the CPS has a youth justice specialist who oversees the prosecution of youth crime in their area.

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Karen Matthews and Michael Donovan abused Shannon's trust says CPS lawyer


Karen Matthews and Michael Donovan abused public services and public money and, worst of all, a child's trust for personal gain, said Crown Prosecution Service reviewing lawyer Malcolm Taylor, following their conviction at Leeds Crown Court.

"This was a story of total disregard for their family and the public," said Mr Taylor, Special Casework Lawyer at CPS West Yorkshire. "Karen Matthews and Michael Donovan honestly believed that they could stage the disappearance of Matthews' own daughter and somehow benefit financially from the huge wave of public sympathy that would inevitably follow."

"The cynical plot culminated in Matthews' television appeals for the return of her daughter, made while she was actively concealing the whereabouts of the child from the police, who were deploying huge resources to search for Shannon," said Mr Taylor.

"In the words of prosecuting Counsel, she lied, lied and lied again - to the police and, through the media, to the public, while Donovan was holding Shannon at his flat, drugged and helpless, less than two miles from her home.

"The people of Dewsbury and the surrounding area gave unstinting assistance to the hunt for a defenceless child whom they thought was missing during the coldest part of the year. This was an of abuse of public trust, public services, the public purse and, worst of all, Matthews' own daughter for personal gain," he said.

"From the outset of the massive investigation into Shannon's disappearance, this has been a very important case for the CPS and West Yorkshire Police who worked closely together from an early stage."


  1. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office 020 7710 6088. Out of hours pager: 07699 781926
  2. Matthews and Donovan were charged as follows:
    • Count 1
      • PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE: MICHAEL DONOVAN and KAREN MATTHEWS on the 19th day of February 2008 unlawfully and by force or fraud took or carried away Shannon Matthews against her will.
    • Count 2
      • PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE: MICHAEL DONOVAN and KAREN MATTHEWS between the 18TH day of February 2008 and the 15th day of March 2008 unlawfully and injuriously imprisoned and detained Shannon Matthews against her will.
    • Count 3
      • PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE: MICHAEL DONOVAN and KAREN MATTHEWS between the 18TH day of February 2008 and the 15th day of March 2008 with intent to pervert the course of public justice, did a series of acts which had a tendency to pervert the course of public justice in that you reported to the West Yorkshire Police that Shannon Matthews was a missing person when you knew where she was and you were keeping her from being found.
    • Matthews was found guilty on counts 1, 2 and 3
    • Donovan was found guilty on Counts 1, 2 and 3
  3. 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
  4. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). 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:
  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. The Protocol is published on our website at: