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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 letter to The Times

20/10/2017

Letter from Alison Saunders, DPP, published in abridged form in The Times, 20 October 2017

Sir,

Your articles and editorial comment (Oct 20) paint an unfair and entirely inaccurate picture of the Crown Prosecution Service.

Through a combination of misleading allegations, false and anonymous criticism and out-of-date statistics, your readers could be led to believe that the CPS is somehow in crisis. This is very far from the truth.

Our performance is consistently strong. Last year we prosecuted 588,021 cases with a conviction rate of 83.9% and guilty pleas in 76.9% of cases, demonstrating that we are producing high quality casework and delivering justice.

Your puzzling suggestion that three acquittals in rape cases raises questions over whether they should have been brought demonstrates a failure to grasp the basic principle of prosecution decision-making. It is not the role of the CPS to determine guilt or innocence but to make an objective assessment of the evidence.

In reality, more defendants across England and Wales are now being prosecuted and convicted for rape and other sexual offences than ever before. We have also increased the number of specialist prosecutors in this area by 43% since 2015.

The CPS has robust policies and procedures in place in order to deal with poor performance. We can and do take action when needed. Fewer than 1% of employees released on voluntary exit terms since 2012 have been subject to previous disciplinary investigation.

Despite your unbalanced and negative portrayal, the public, including victims and witnesses, can be confident the CPS is performing effectively in our role as an independent, objective prosecution authority.

ALISON SAUNDERS

DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS

Ends

Notes to Editors

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