About CPS

The Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecutes criminal cases that have been investigated by the police and other investigative organisations in England and Wales. The CPS is independent, and we make our decisions independently of the police and government.

Our duty is to make sure that the right person is prosecuted for the right offence, and to bring offenders to justice wherever possible.

The CPS:

  • decides which cases should be prosecuted; 
  • determines the appropriate charges in more serious or complex cases, and advises the police during the early stages of investigations; 
  • prepares cases and presents them at court; and 
  • provides information, assistance and support to victims and prosecution witnesses. 

Prosecutors must be fair, objective and independent. When deciding whether to prosecute a criminal case, our lawyers must follow the Code for Crown Prosecutors. This means that to charge someone with a criminal offence, prosecutors must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction, and that prosecuting is in the public interest.

The CPS works closely with the police, courts, the Judiciary and other partners to deliver justice.  

How we work

The principles we follow

The Code for Crown Prosecutors sets out the basic principles to be followed by Crown Prosecutors when they make case decisions. The decision on whether or not to charge a case against a suspect is based on the Full Code Test as outlined in the Code. The Full Code Test has two stages:

The evidential stage

This is the first stage in the decision to prosecute. Crown Prosecutors must be satisfied that there is enough evidence to provide a "realistic prospect of conviction" against each defendant on each charge. They must consider whether the evidence can be used and is reliable. They must also consider what the defence case may be and how that is likely to affect the prosecution case.

A "realistic prospect of conviction" is an objective test. It means that a jury or a bench of magistrates, properly directed in accordance with the law, will be more likely than not to convict the defendant of the charge alleged. (This is a separate test from the one that criminal courts themselves must apply. A jury or magistrates' court should only convict if it is sure of a defendant's guilt.) If the case does not pass the evidential stage, it must not go ahead, no matter how important or serious it may be.

The public interest stage

If the case does pass the evidential stage, Crown Prosecutors must then decide whether a prosecution is needed in the public interest. They must balance factors for and against prosecution carefully and fairly. Some factors may increase the need to prosecute but others may suggest that another course of action would be better.

A prosecution will usually take place however, unless there are public interest factors tending against prosecution which clearly outweigh those tending in favour. The CPS will only start or continue a prosecution if a case has passed both stages.

Our values

We will be independent and fair

We will prosecute independently, without bias and will seek to deliver justice in every case.

We will be honest and open

We will explain our decisions, set clear standards about the service the public can expect from us and be honest if we make a mistake.

We will treat everyone with respect

We will respect each other, our colleagues and the public we serve, recognising that there are people behind every case.

We will behave professionally and strive for excellence

We will work as one team, always seeking new and better ways to deliver the best possible service for the public. We will be efficient and responsible with tax-payers' money.

Equality and inclusion

The CPS commitment to inclusion and equality is at the heart of how we work. It is important to us both as an employer and in the way we approach our responsibilities as a prosecuting authority. The two are closely linked – supporting a diverse workforce allows us to provide a better service to the public.

We also value the insight we get from engaging directly with the communities we serve, who provide welcome scrutiny of our work. This inclusive approach means that:

  • Effective community engagement builds greater trust with the public victim and witness satisfaction, and better informed prosecution policy and practice. 
  • The CPS has an inclusive culture, reflected in a diverse workforce, locally and nationally, and at all levels of the organisation
  • By opening up the CPS and acting on input from diverse communities, we aim to inspire greater confidence in the CPS, in particular from witnesses and victims, resulting in improved prosecution outcomes.

The Equality Act 2010 underpins the way we work; data is available in the Publications section of this website.

We have published our CPS 2020 inclusion and community engagement strategy, which sets out our ambition to build on strong foundations, making sure we continue to lead the way on promoting fairness, equality, diversity and inclusion across the criminal justice system.

Our Organisation

Around 6,000 people work for the Crown Prosecution Service, across England and Wales in a variety of roles. Almost half our employees are lawyers, who are responsible for deciding whether to prosecute cases, and represent the Crown in many hearings in the courts. The rest work to assist prosecutors preparing cases for court, or in other professions including operational delivery, finance, human resources, communications and digital and technology services.

Director of Public Prosecutions

Max Hill QC, Director of Public ProsecutionsMax Hill QC is the Director of Public Prosecutions. He was appointed by the Attorney General and took up post on 1 November 2018.

Max was born in Hertfordshire in 1964. He attended state primary schools and, following a family move to Northumberland, the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle upon Tyne. He won a scholarship to study Law at St Peter’s College, Oxford 1983-6. He qualified as a barrister in 1987 and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2008.

While at the bar, Max both defended and prosecuted in complex cases including homicides, violent crime, terrorism, high value fraud and corporate crime. He was instructed in many of the most significant and high-profile murder trials in recent years, including the second set of trials concerning the killing of Damilola Taylor, and the London bombings of 2005.

From March 2017 to October 2018 Max was the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. As the Independent Reviewer, he compiled reports including an investigative review of the use of terrorism legislation following the Westminster Bridge attacks.

Max was also the Leader of the South Eastern Circuit from 2014 to 2016, Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association from 2011 to 2012, and Chairman of the Kalisher Trust from 2014 to 2018. Until his appointment as DPP Max was Head of Red Lion Chambers.

The CPS Board

The CPS Board provides strategic leadership and is collectively responsible for delivering our organisational objectives. It plays a key role in ensuring that the organisation is equipped to provide a professional, efficient and high quality service. 

The DPP chairs the CPS Board, which supports him in governing the organisation. The Board includes four executive members and four non-executive directors:

Paul Staff - Chief Executive (interim) and Director of Corporate Services Toggle accordion

Paul Staff profile photoPaul Staff spent his early career in a wide range of roles in both manufacturing and commerce. He subsequently joined the British Library in the late 1970s and spent time in various roles in service delivery and Corporate Services before specialising in costing and the implementation and development of financial systems. He took up the role of interim Chief Executive in June 2018.

Paul is a qualified accountant and for over 20 years headed up the finance and accounts function for the CPS. As Director of Corporate Services Paul is now responsible for Finance, Human Resources, Digital and Technology, Procurement and Estates, Security and Records Management. He also plays the lead role in managing relationships with the National Audit Office and Treasury.

Sue Hemming - Director of Legal Services (Training and Legal Guidance) Toggle accordion

Sue Hemming profile photoSue Hemming joined the CPS in 1988 and worked in Cambridgeshire before joining the CPS Casework Directorate in 2000 where she led one of the branches that specialised in Special Crime work and had the CPS lead for extradition. In September 2002 Sue took over responsibility for prosecuting terrorism, international crimes and official secrets. She was made the Head of the new Counter Terrorism Division when it was created in 2005 and was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list the same year.

Sue took over the expanded Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division in April 2011, widening her responsibility to include the other complex and high profile casework such as deaths in custody, police corruption, corporate manslaughter and the appeals and review unit. Sue has worked closely with the police, intelligence services and others to develop policy and guidance and to build strong cases enabling the CPS to bring terrorists to justice across a range of developing threats. Since 2012, she has been closely involved in the Hillsborough investigations which have been the largest in English criminal history.

Sue took up her role as Director of Legal Services on 1 August 2018.

Gregor McGill - Director of Legal Services (Casework Quality) Toggle accordion

Gregor McGill profile photoGregor McGill qualified as a solicitor in 1987 and began his career as a commercial litigator at a City of London firm before joining CPS London in 1991. After more than a decade, he joined HM Customs & Excise as a senior lawyer. Gregor was appointed Head of the Serious Organised Crime Division of the newly created Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office in 2006.

On returning to the CPS, his roles included Head of the Fraud Prosecution Division and Legal Director in CPS London. He led the CPS response to the Leveson Inquiry before being appointed Head of the Organised Crime Division in 2012, working closely with the National Crime Agency to combat the threat to the United Kingdom posed by organised criminals. Gregor took up his role as Director of Legal Services at the CPS in January 2016.

Jean Ashton OBE - Director of Business Services Toggle accordion

Jean Ashton profile photoJean joined the CPS in 1986 as Head of the West Yorkshire Finance Team before moving into front line operations as a Senior Law Clerk managing the handling of serious casework. She has held a number of key roles, leading change across casework and business administration functions including HR, estates, operational delivery and finance.

Jean became Area Business Manager for West Yorkshire in 2001 and went on to hold the same role in Greater Manchester and then CPS London. In 2014 Jean became the Head of Operations and was responsible for leading the delivery and continuous improvement of CPS operational functions. She became the Director of Business Services in January 2016.

Monica Burch - Non-executive Director Toggle accordion

Monica Burch profile photoMonica has had a long and distinguished legal career, retiring as chair and senior partner at Addleshaw Goddard LLP in 2016. As a lawyer, she practised in the fields of commercial litigation and international arbitration, advising on a wide range of claims in a number of jurisdictions. In 2010, Monica was appointed a Recorder of civil cases.

In addition to the CPS Board, Monica chairs the Nominations and Governance Committee. She is also a non-executive director at Lloyds underwriter Talbot Underwriting Limited and non-executive director and chair of The Mentoring Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation helping more women reach the top of large organisations.

Mark Hammond - Non-executive Director Toggle accordion

Mark Hammond profile photoMark has had an extensive career in the public sector, having served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and CEO of West Sussex County Council. He has also held a range of posts in the Civil Service, including Private Secretary to the Permanent Secretary at the Department of the Environment.

Mark is a member of the Audit and Risk Committee. Outside of the CPS, he is currently Visiting Professor in Public Policy at Canterbury Christ Church University and a senior fellow at the University's Centre for European Studies. He is also a non-executive director on the General Pharmaceutical Council and a member of the Public Sector Advisory Board for Penna plc.

Caroline Wayman - Non-executive Director Toggle accordion

Caroline Wayman, Non-executive DirectorCaroline Wayman is the Chief Executive and Chief Ombudsman of the Financial Ombudsman Service. She is an experienced member of their strategic leadership team, having first been appointed to the executive in 2011 as principal ombudsman and legal director. Caroline was called to the Bar and spent her early career working in the insurance industry.

Her work away from the Ombudsman Service includes her role on the Board of the Claims Management Regulator, which she joined in 2014. In addition to the CPS Board, Caroline is a member of the Nominations and Governance Committee.

Simon Jeffreys - Non-executive Director Toggle accordion

Simon Jeffreys, Non-Executive DirectorSimon was the former Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer at The Wellcome Trust, and Chief Administrative Officer at Fidelity International. For most of his professional life he was a senior audit partner at PwC, leading the firm’s Investment Management and Real Estate practice globally.

Simon is the Chair of the CPS Audit and Risk Committee. Outside of the CPS he chairs the boards of Aon UK and Henderson International Income Trust.

The role of the non-executive Directors is to provide external perspective, challenge and advice on matters referred to the Board.

CPS senior leadership organogram Toggle accordion

CPS Organogram 5 December 2018

Specialist Casework Divisions and CPS Proceeds of Crime

Our three Central Casework Divisions deal with some of the most complex cases we prosecute. They work closely with specialist investigators from a range of organisations, including the National Crime Agency, HM Revenue & Customs and the Independent Police Complaints Commission, as well as police forces across England and Wales.

The three specialist divisions, each headed by a Head of Division (equivalent to a Chief Crown Prosecutor), are:

In addition, CPS Proceeds of Crime is a dedicated division responsible for all restraint, enforcement and serious confiscation work.

Your local CPS

The CPS operates across England and Wales, with 14 regional teams prosecuting cases locally.

Each of these 14 CPS Areas is headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor, and works closely with local police forces and other criminal justice partners.

Find out who’s who in your area, and read more about local cases.

Find out about your area