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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

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.

Find out more about private prosecutions

Hillsborough investigations refer evidence to Crown Prosecution Service


The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and Operation Resolve have referred files of evidence relating to 23 suspects from their Hillsborough investigations to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to decide whether criminal charges should follow.

Of these, 15 suspects relate to Operation Resolve's investigation into the causes of the disaster. The potential offences for consideration include gross negligence manslaughter, perverting the course of justice, misconduct in public office and offences under the Safety of Sports Ground Act 1975 and Health and Safety at Work legislation.

A further eight individuals relate to the IPCC's independent investigation into both South Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police and the alleged cover-up of the disaster. The potential offences for consideration include perverting the course of justice, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and misconduct in public office.

The CPS will consider any other relevant offences on the evidence presented by both investigation teams.

Both the IPCC and Operation Resolve teams have worked closely with the CPS during the investigation and will remain on hand to support the CPS throughout this decision-making period, undertaking any additional tasks as required.

Over 170 allegations of police misconduct continue to be investigated by both teams.

Updates will continue to be provided to the families of the 96 and their representatives.

A referral to the CPS does not mean that criminal charges will necessarily follow.

Sue Hemming, Head of CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: "Having received files from both Hillsborough investigations, we will now assess these in order to determine whether we have sufficient material on which to make charging decisions. Charging decisions will be based on the tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors."

AC Robert Beckley, Office in Overall Command of Operation Resolve said: "Our task has been to investigate whether any individual or organisation is criminally culpable for their role either in the planning and preparation for the match or on the day of the game itself.

"The extensive file we have submitted, which contains over 35 million words, reflects four years of intense work from my team. As well as conducting a criminal investigation, for three years we also supported the coronial process in providing the coroner with thousands of documents, witness statements and reports to assist him in conducting the inquests."

IPCC Deputy Chair Rachel Cerfontyne said: "These criminal investigations into the circumstances surrounding the Hillsborough disaster are the largest investigations into alleged police wrongdoing ever undertaken in England and Wales.

"Conducting an inquiry of this scale and complexity, while supporting the longest running inquests in British legal history, has been a significant undertaking for the IPCC. Our criminal investigation has now substantially concluded."


Notes to Editors

  1. The information the IPCC has provided to the CPS about WMP and SYP runs to 61,000 pages and nearly 3,000 documents respectively.
  2. The information provided by Operation Resolve runs to approximately 85,000 pages.
  3. For the latest in breaking news from the CPS Press Office follow @cpsuk on Twitter and visit our official News Brief -
  4. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926