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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 seize £40,000 from canoe fraudster John Darwin


The Crown Prosecution Service has recovered £40,000 from John Darwin, who was found guilty of deception in 2008 with his wife over a life insurance scam. He faked his own death and was reported missing in a canoe in the sea off Seaton Carew in March 2002. Meanwhile, his wife collected hundreds of thousands of pounds in life insurance payouts, with John Darwin hiding in the marital home.

The recent payment of £40,000 brings the total amount paid in confiscation orders by the Darwins to £541,762 and 39 pence. The £40,000 was paid on 28 July 2014 from John Darwin's pension, which he had deferred until the same time his licence preventing him for leaving the country was about to run out. Following his conviction, the court found that John Darwin had benefited by £679,194.62, but having pretended to be dead, all assets were in his wife's name. The court therefore made an order for £1 allowing the CPS to amend the order should any assets, such as this pension, become available.

The Darwins now have no known assets remaining for confiscation.

Nick Price, Head of Proceeds of Crime at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "When John Darwin devised his plan to defraud insurance companies, he didn't think he'd get caught at all. But he also didn't bank on the dedication and determination of my team to recover the money he stole - even seven years later.

"This case really shows that fraud doesn't pay.

"My thanks also go to police colleagues in the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team for their hard work."


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 CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three national casework divisions: Specialist Fraud (formerly Central Fraud and Welfare, Rural & Health Divisions), Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. CPS Direct is a 'virtual' 14th Area which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  3. At 31 March 2014 we employed a workforce of approximately 6237 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2226 prosecutors and 3629 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:
  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. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.