Advocate Panels: 2020 Panel - General Crime and the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences List (RASSO List)

Guidance and the Application Process

The new iteration of the CPS Advocate Panel for General Crime and Rape and Serious Sexual Offences runs from 2020 to 2024.

2020 Panel Refresh arrangements

The arrangements relating to the 2020 refresh of the CPS Advocate Panel in respect of General Crime and the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences List (RASSO List) (‘the 2020 Panel’) can be found on this page:

Advocate Panel Scheme 2020-2024: 2020 Refresh Guidance - General Crime and the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences List (RASSO List)

Details of the CPS Advocate Panel Scheme 2020-24

The aim is to appoint advocates who have met the respective selection criteria and have relevant, up to date skills and experience. Any advocate appointed must be able to deliver high-quality prosecution advocacy services and have a commitment to meet the aims and objectives of the CPS. Full details can found on this page:

CPS Advocate Panel Scheme 2020-2024: Details of the scheme - General Crime and the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences List (RASSO List) - Updated November 2019

Advocate Panel Members’ Commitment Toggle accordion

All advocates appointed to the 2020 Panel, by invitation or application, will commit to meet the expectations CPS has of its Panel members. The initial expectations are outlined below but could be subject to change. Any change will be published by CPS on its web-site and on the External Prosecution College. Panel members will also be advised of any significant changes by email. Failure to comply with the expectations could result in removal from the Panel.

The Panel members’ commitment applies to advocates whilst acting for CPS and, more generally, in their capacity as Panel members.

Advocate Panel members will commit as follows:

Casework Quality

1.    To be familiar with and comply with the requirements of the Code for Crown Prosecutors

2.    To meet CPS Casework Quality Standards, in particular the presentation standard.

3.    To act in accordance with the Farquharson guidelines  on the role of the prosecution advocate, or any other guideline or standard agreed between the CPS and Bar Council. Panel Members are reminded it is the duty of prosecution advocate to read the Instructions expeditiously and to advise or confer with those instructing on all aspects of the case well before its commencement. The prosecution advocate will respond within five working days of receiving instructions, or within such period as may be specified or agreed where the case is substantial or the issues complex.

4.    On receipt of instructions the prosecution advocate will consider the papers and advise the CPS (in writing, or orally in cases of urgency). Where appropriate, an advice can be provided as a list of bullet points in the body of a secure email. The advocate should advise that the case is satisfactory and no further work is required, or where:

  • The prosecution advocate takes a different view to that expressed by the CPS (or where applicable a previous prosecution advocate) on acceptability of plea
  • The indictment as preferred requires amendment
  • Additional evidence is required
  • There is an evidential deficiency (which cannot be addressed by the obtaining of further evidence) and, applying the Code for Crown Prosecutors, there is no realistic prospect of conviction; or the prosecution advocate believes it is not in the public interest to continue the prosecution
  • In order to expedite and simplify proceedings certain formal admissions should be made
  • The prosecution advocate, having reviewed previous disclosure decisions, disagrees with a decision that has been made; or is not satisfied that he or she is in possession of all relevant documentation; or considers that he or she has not been fully instructed regarding disclosure matters
  • A case conference is required (particularly where there is a sensitive issue e.g. informant, PII, rape etc.)
  • Parameters on acceptable plea(s) are required
  • The presentation of the case to the court requires special preparation of material for the jury or presentational aids.

5.    Except for overnight returns, to acknowledge receipt of instructions and advise CPS of their contact details.

6.    To comply with duties requiring action or compliance from the prosecution advocate, in particular:

i.    Judges’ orders
ii.    Criminal Procedure Rules
iii.   Case management requirements, including engagement with advocates representing the defence
iv.   Timescales in relation to appeals or potential appeals

7.    To secure appropriate level security clearance, as required for advocates undertaking specialist organised crime work, particularly terrorism

8.    To ensure the approach to prosecuting is efficient and effective, minimizing unnecessary or avoidable cost to the public purse.

9.    To provide an adverse case report as required in RASSO or other cases.

10.    For counsel, to comply with the security arrangements agreed between the Law Officers’ Departments and the Bar, in particular the Attorney General’s Guidelines on Information Security and Government Work. Solicitor advocates will also be expected to comply with these principles.

Advocacy

11.    To meet the National Standards of Advocacy published on the CPS website.

12.    To follow CPS policy guidance and legal policy in relation to advocacy and the prosecution function.

13.    To comply with the CPS advocacy assessment process and be available for assessment, if required

14.    To follow agreed procedures and guidance on the care and treatment of victims and witnesses, particularly those who may be vulnerable or have special needs. To ensure professional and sensitive interaction with victims and witnesses as an essential part of the role of the prosecution advocate.  

15.    To follow policy guidance available on the CPS web-site particularly in relation to speaking to witnesses at court.

16.    To pay particular attention to the appropriate and timely handling of cases where a custody time limit applies, and to announce the agreed CTL during each hearing.

17.    To announce their attendance to CPS staff, or sign-in, on each occasion when attending court.

18.    To inform CPS without delay when they are likely to be unavailable to undertake a prosecution or have conflicting diary clashes. The early notification of unavailability is particularly important in complex or serious cases with a fixed trial date.  

Communication and digital working

19.    To meet any requirement for digital working agreed with the Bar Council and published on the CPS web-site (in due course).

20.    To maintain an active secure email account and keep CPS informed of the secure email address and contact details at all times

21.    To have access to a secure operational email account, which must:

(i)    be able to send and receive emails, which may contain sensitive information, over the Government Secure Intranet
(ii)    be used as the address by which the CPS will serve or make available evidence and communicate electronically
(iii)    be capable of being used to work electronically within the criminal justice system and with other criminal justice agencies. This means (without limitation) that the system must be able to connect to any standards based video link conference system (i.e. IP (internet Protocol) based system).
(iv)    be capable of being accessed and used remotely (for example at courts and police stations).

22.    To comply with the requirements of digital working, including use of the Digital Case System in the Crown Court and to complete and return the Hearing Record Sheet (HRS) within 24 hours of the conclusion of a hearing. Notwithstanding completion of the HRS, matters of urgency must be reported to a CPS representative without delay.

23.    When the CJS Common Platform becomes available in a court centre to register for, obtain and use a CJS CP digital identity and use the platform to:

a)    Access evidence that is served or made available direct on the platform
b)    Undertake any case progression activity, as required.
c)    Serve any documents required on the court or parties
d)    Make any applications to court

Professional Conduct and training

24.    To meet the requirements of their professional regulator, in particular to hold a current practising certificate

25.    To act and behave at all times in accordance with CPS Values

26.    When instructed by CPS, to refrain from commenting on cases inappropriately, or criticising those instructing inappropriately, including through social media

27.    To advise CPS of any arrest on a criminal charge, caution, conviction or referral to a disciplinary tribunal.

28.    To undertake mandatory training requirements as determined by CPS and published on the CPS website and External Prosecution College.

Administration

29.    To advise CPS of a material change in circumstances; for example change of chambers / business address, contact details, withdrawal from practice etc.

30.    To comply with CPS remuneration and billing arrangements

If applicants are unclear about the requirements listed above, or require further information, they should contact Advocate.Panels@CPS.gov.uk.

Advocate Panels - Description of Levels (Updated May 2020) Toggle accordion

Applicants will apply to join the CPS Advocate Panel at one of four levels and/or the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) List.

The levels and the competencies required are based upon the historical and established CPS Competency Framework for the admission and grading of advocates.

An extract of the Competency Framework is attached to help candidates understand the requirements and relativities of the four levels.

The selection criteria used for the Advocate Panel process are based on the established Competency Framework.

Candidates should refer to all of the guidance available before completing their application form.

EXTRACT

COMPETENCY FRAMEWORK FOR ADMISSION AND GRADING OF ADVOCATES ON THE ADVOCATE PANEL LIST

LEVEL 1
This is the entry level for CPS work.

Qualification
Applicants will, at the time the application is considered, be members of the Bar who have reached the fifth month of their first six months of pupillage; have been offered a tenancy in a Chambers (or been registered as a sole practitioner) and have taken their first steps in advocacy. Alternatively, applicants will be qualified solicitors with a certificate to practice as an advocate in the Higher Courts.

Applicants will have demonstrated an understanding of:

  1. the appropriate skills of advocacy and written work;
  2. adequate preparation for court;
  3. ethical standards and the principles of disclosure;
  4. the exercise of sound judgement;
  5. an acceptable court manner towards the bench, opponents, victims and witnesses;
  6. a current knowledge of the values and beliefs of diverse communities, appropriate and consistent with the requirement for effective working relationships within diverse communities;
  7. the professional relationship between the advocate and the CPS, including the Bar Standards, whether holding an original brief or a return from another, and
  8. Suitable court dress.

Applicants should have attended a Criminal Advocates’ Human Rights Course, or otherwise be able to demonstrate an ability to deal with human rights issues as they apply to criminal cases.

Experience
No experience of prosecuting is required. Applicants will usually have undertaken some criminal prosecution or defence work.

Competence
To maintain Level 1 classification applicants must be able to conduct to an acceptable standard a range of magistrates’ court and Youth Court prosecutions up to and including a whole day’s list and to conduct simple mentions, straightforward guilty pleas, committals for sentence and appeals in the Crown Court. Applicants must have an expert up-to-date legal knowledge relevant to such prosecutions and demonstrate appropriate standards of oral and written advocacy. Applicants should be able to demonstrate that they are able to work well with others in this range of prosecutions.

Training
Applicants should provide evidence that they have undertaken sufficient and relevant training courses during the year to satisfy the Continuing Professional Development requirements of their professional body, if required.

Awareness of CPS Policy
Applicants should have an awareness of CPS Policy applicable to prosecuting at Level 1 in respect of:

  1. Victims and Witness Code
  2. Statutory Charging
  3. Hate Crime and Domestic Violence
  4. Custody Time Limits
  5. The Prosecutors’ Pledge

LEVEL 2

This level is the natural progression for the advocate who has consistently demonstrated an ability to handle Level 1 work.

Qualification
Applicants will (generally) have been Level 1 prosecutors working to the standard required with confidence and the professional skill appropriate to a new practitioner.  Applicants will have demonstrated an ability to examine and cross-examine witness and to address the Court effectively on matters of law and procedure.

Experience
Advocates will generally have demonstrated professional competence in a variety of prosecution or defence work in the magistrates’ and Crown Courts and will have been successful in the standard of work required of prosecutors at Level 1. Applicants will usually have conducted somewhat heavier cases for the defence or by way of return as a prosecutor.

Competence
As Level 2 prosecutors applicants will be required to perform any of the work of a Level 1 prosecutor, and in addition all straightforward non-jury work in the Crown Court and jury trials including theft, deception, assault (ABH and Section 20 GBH), burglary (not in aggravated form), possession of drugs and non-fatal road traffic offences. Applicants will also have undertaken more challenging Youth Court prosecutions and be aware of the requirement to deal with such cases in an appropriate and sensitive manner. Applicants must have expert up-to-date legal knowledge relevant to such prosecutions and demonstrate appropriate standards of oral and written advocacy (including ability to deal with complicating factors such as special measures, expert evidence, significant disclosure/PII issues, and complex points of evidence or law) and should have demonstrated the potential to appear as a junior in appropriate cases. Applicants should be able to demonstrate that they are able to work well with others in this range of prosecutions. Applicants should also have sufficient knowledge of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to be able to deal with any confiscation issues raised in Level 2 prosecutions.

Training
Applicants should provide evidence that they have undertaken sufficient and relevant training courses to satisfy Continuing Professional Development requirements during the year.

Awareness of CPS Policy
Applicants should have an awareness of CPS Policy as with Level 1 but at the level required for prosecuting at Level 2 and in addition of CPS Policy on:

  1. The prosecution of Rape and Sexual Offences.
  2. Proceeds of Crime Applications

LEVEL 3

Appointment to Level 3 represents a significant elevation in terms of the complexity and challenge of casework.

Qualification
Applicants will generally have significant experience undertaking Level 2 standard work with ethical soundness, and skill.  Applicants will have shown an appreciation of the public but independent role of the prosecutor by consistently providing sound advice (including advice on plea or the basis of plea) and by demonstrating effective advocacy skills so as to serve the interests and administration of justice. Applicants will have established a reputation for effective advocacy with and without a jury, and have acquired a thorough working knowledge of the rules of evidence.

Experience
Applicants will have significant experience either prosecuting or defending as well as demonstrating the potential to carry out more serious work.  Applicants will have a successful track record known to professional colleagues, the CPS and the bench.

Competence
Level 3 prosecutors will be required to undertake any of the work of a Level 2 prosecutor and also to conduct jury trials in more serious and onerous prosecutions including fraud (non special casework cases), serious assaults (Section 18), complex robberies, driving offences involving death, child abuse and trials involving child victims and witnesses, rape and indecency cases, video-link cases and multi-handed prosecutions of up to four defendants. Level 3 prosecutors will also be expected to conduct straightforward appeals in the Divisional Court and Court of Appeal. They will also be expected to prosecute serious and complex Youth Court matters. Applicants must have expert up to date legal knowledge relevant to such prosecutions and demonstrate appropriate standards of oral and written advocacy. Applicants should be able to demonstrate that they are able to work well with others in this range of prosecutions. Applicants should also have sufficient knowledge of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to be able to deal with the confiscation issues raised in Level 3 prosecutions.

Training
Applicants should provide evidence that they have undertaken sufficient and relevant training courses to satisfy Continuing Professional development requirements during the year, and  (in order to be instructed in prosecutions of Sexual Offences) that they have received the approved training on the prosecution of rape and sexual offences.  

Awareness of CPS Policy
Applicants will be aware of CPS Policy as at previous levels but at the level required for prosecuting at Level 3.

LEVEL 4

This level is reserved to advocates of exceptional, substantial experience and ability and should not be regarded as a mere career progression.

Qualification
Applicants will have substantial experience of conducting Level 3 standard cases.  They will have established themselves as leaders in the field of criminal advocacy in all but the most serious junior cases in the Crown Court. Applicants will have demonstrated consistently and over a long period an ability to exercise sound judgement, to prepare thoroughly and to exercise the highest professional standards.

Experience
Level 4 advocates will have an established reputation for excellence among court users, including the bench. Applicants will usually have had experience of conducting sensitive, public interest or other difficult cases with the same objectivity and sound judgement which marked their other work. Applicants will generally have handled prosecutions involving a number of defendants and demonstrated an ability to adapt to the exigencies of a multi-handed trial. Applicants will almost certainly have taken returns at Level 4, or equivalent, and have conducted them to a standard commanding respect.  They will probably have defended with or without a leader in Level 4 cases and have conducted appeals in the Divisional Court or the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division).

Competence
Level 4 advocates will be asked to take all cases in the criminal calendar in the Crown Court and beyond, whatever the issues and whatever the number of defendants. They will be expected to handle serious, novel and difficult points of law and fact, sometimes in opposition to leading counsel for the defence. They will be expected to demonstrate a consistently high quality of work whether working alone, with a second junior, or when leading. In addition, they will have shown their ability in relation to sensitive witnesses (e.g. where special measures employed) and in handling complex witness issues. They must have expert up-to-date legal knowledge relevant to such prosecutions and demonstrate appropriate standards of oral and written advocacy. They will be expected to handle a wide range of Appellate and Administrative Court work. They should be able to demonstrate that they are able to work well with others in this range of prosecutions. Applicants should also be able to deal with the most complex issues involving confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Awareness of CPS Policy
Applicants will be aware of CPS Policy as at previous levels but at the level required for prosecuting at Level 4.

Training
Applicants should provide evidence that they have undertaken sufficient and relevant training courses to satisfy Continuing Professional development requirements during the year, and  (in order to be instructed in prosecutions of Sexual Offences) that they have received the approved training on the prosecution of rape and sexual offences.

In addition to the Competency Framework

Rape and Serious Sexual Offences List
Reserved for advocates at level 3 or 4 who have received CPS accredited training in respect of rape and serious sexual abuse casework and can demonstrate the experience and ability to undertake cases which exhibit the characteristics of this type of offending. Applicants will often have undertaken prosecution work short of rape in the Youth Court and will have skilfully dealt with the sensitivities of vulnerable witnesses and defendants in that venue.

Qualification
Applicants will have demonstrated a high standard of ability as criminal advocates to reach level 3 or 4. In addition they will have experience of conducting sensitive cases with vulnerable witnesses and defendants in the Crown Court, magistrates’ courts and the Youth Court. They will have developed a good understanding of the issues concerned with rape and serious sexual offence prosecutions to enable them to deal with the sensitivities of these cases to the highest professional standards.

Experience
RASSO List advocates will have established a reputation for excellence among court users, including the bench in dealing with sensitive casework involving vulnerable victims.  Applicants will usually have had experience of conducting sensitive or other difficult cases with a sexual element with objectivity, sound judgement and with an excellent approach to victim and witness care. Applicants will have handled prosecutions involving vulnerable victims in a contested trial. Applicants will almost certainly have had experience of defending cases of this nature and will have conducted them to a standard commanding respect.

Competence
In the context of rape prosecutions, applicants will be able to demonstrate a high degree of knowledge of:

  • Myths and stereotypes, and Consent
  • Medical and forensic evidence in rape cases
  • The law as contained in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and other relevant legislation
  • Recent developments in case law
  • The experience of victims – impact of rape trauma and vulnerable victims
  • CPS policy including the CPS/Police joint national rape protocol
  • Forensic science in relation to DNA and rape
  • CPS commitments to victims and witnesses, and  
  • Best practice regarding out of court work

In addition, they will have demonstrated their ability in relation to sensitive witnesses (e.g. where special measures employed) and in handling complex witness issues. They must have expert up-to-date legal knowledge relevant to such prosecutions and demonstrate appropriate standards of oral and written advocacy.

Awareness of CPS Policy
Applicants will be aware of rape and serious sexual abuse CPS Policy relevant to their level.

Training
Applicants should provide evidence that they have undertaken sufficient and relevant training courses in relation to the prosecution of rape and sexual offences.

Advocate Panels - Assessment Process (updated May 2020) Toggle accordion

Summary of Assessment Procedure

Applicants will complete and return a standard application form via email and supply references. Application forms must be completed electronically.

Completed applications will be submitted to a central CPS email address:
Advocate.Panels@CPS.gov.uk

Applicants can apply for a place on up to two Circuit based Panels. Applicants will identify their preferred Circuit. Applicants will also identify their preferred Crown Court location(s).

Each Circuit based Panel will have a General Crime list plus Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) List. Applicants can apply to join the General Crime List and the ‘RASSO List’.

Applications to join the Advocate Panel at Level 1 will be assessed by a single member of the CPS.  

Assessment boards will be conducted for applicants wishing to apply at Levels 2, 3 or 4, upgrade a level or join the ‘RASSO List.’ Assessment Boards will consist of a minimum of three members and comprise of CPS colleagues. Assessment Boards will proceed with two members where, due to a conflict of interest, a member has to excuse themselves from the assessment process. Representatives of the Bar Council and Law Society will also be invited to take part in the assessment process. Each Assessment Board will be provided with copies of their allocation of applications, references and marking forms.  

The Assessment Boards will meet and agree a Chair for the session. The Assessment Boards will score each candidate against the selection criteria.  Once a score is agreed the Chair will complete an assessment form for each candidate.

Assessment boards are asked to ensure they make a full and clear note of the evidence supporting their markings, remembering that applicants may be entitled to see comments under the Data Protection Bill 2017. Comments on the assessment forms will be used as the basis for feedback to unsuccessful candidates.

Moderating of assessments will be undertaken by the Advocate Panel Team.

Applicant Assessment/Marking

Applications will be assessed against set criteria. Each criterion will be scored against the requirement for the level applied for and an overall score determined.

The criteria for assessment will fall under the following headings:

  • Advocacy
  • Advisory Work
  • PII and disclosure (levels 2, 3 and 4 only)
  • Other relevant knowledge, skills and experience
  • Understanding the role of the CPS Panel Advocate

Each criterion will carry equal weight.

Assessment Boards will review each application against the criteria, which are particularised on the assessment form. The selection criteria need to be graded as to the level of skill / experience / response each applicant has, or has made, in relation to the type of work expected at that level. Assessment Boards are asked to arrive at a points score within each level.

The response for each of the criterion will be scored between 0 and 30 points.

The grading should be based on the specific requirements of the selection criteria in the context of the casework for the level applied for.  For example, overall advocacy experience markings would be awarded as follows:

High (range 21 – 30 points) - applicant whose ability, knowledge and experience, as evidenced by the application form and references, is very strong in most or all of the competency requirements, relevant to criminal work at this level, spans a range of Courts and casework and demonstrates that lessons have been learned from that experience.

Medium (range 11 – 20 points) - applicant whose ability, knowledge and experience, as evidenced by the application form and references, is strong, spans a range of Courts and demonstrates that lessons have been learned, but could not be regarded as anything other than ordinarily strong at this level in most or all of these requirements.

Low (range 0 – 10 points) - applicant whose ability, knowledge and experience, as evidenced by the application form and references, clearly does not appear to meet one or more of the requirements (not plentiful or relevant, does not span a range of Courts and does not demonstrate that lessons have been learned).

Applicants are asked to reference their answers to criminal law. If they have no knowledge, skills or experience in this area they are invited to give examples of analogous knowledge, skills or experience, or an aptitude to develop in this areas. Applicants who have failed to do so should receive fewer marks, proportionate to the relevance of the area(s) to the criteria.

Defence experience will carry equal weight to prosecution experience provided the applicant can demonstrate that their defence skills and knowledge are transferable to prosecution work.

Assessors and moderators need to be aware that:

  1. The word limit or each section of the application form is deliberately very tight;
  2. Applicants are expected to focus on their ability and experience and analyse it constructively;
  3. Applicants should not get credit merely for listing cases or saying “I have been involved in…”  This gives no basis for assessing their ability, achievements or potential;
  4. Applicants have been asked to select referees on the basis of who can say most about their competencies.  Whilst references from instructing solicitors are helpful, do not overlook references from judges, leaders, opponents etc.
  5. Applicants who have a predominantly defence practice should be able to demonstrate transferable skills and knowledge, and
  6. Applicants from a non-criminal background may not have direct experience of some of the more mainstream criminal skills, such as PII or disclosure.  Assessors should be alert to the technical and intellectual demands of the sort of work undertaken and the capacity to adapt that to other areas if required.
  7. Should an applicant include sensitive identifying case information in an example given for the PII and disclosure section or any other they will receive a zero score for that section.  The applicant should be notified of the breach and all copies should be redacted / deleted immediately.

Selection for Circuit based panels will be in two phases.

Phase One

Applicants must meet the minimum acceptable score in their assessment as follows:

  • Level 1: 40 points (out of a maximum of 120)
  • Level 2: 80 points (out of a maximum of 150)
  • Level 3: 80 points (out of a maximum of 150)
  • Level 4: 90 points (out of a maximum of 150)
  • Rape List: 50 points (out of a maximum of 90)

The same appointment threshold will be applied across all Circuits.

Applicants scoring below the acceptable score will not be recommended for appointment, even if it means there is a shortfall in numbers of advocates.

Phase Two

Applicants at level 2, 3 or 4 who fail to meet the minimum acceptable score at the level applied for will be assessed at the next level down and re-scored against the criteria for that level.

Applicants scoring below the acceptable score at the next level down will not be offered a place on the Panel.

A score awarded for the preferred Circuit will be adopted by all other Circuits applied for. For example, if an applicant applies for the Northern and North Eastern Circuits, with a preference for the Northern Circuit and is scored 95 by the Northern Circuit assessors, then that score will also carry over for both circuits.  

RASSO List Assessment

Only advocates who have been assessed as being suitable for levels 3 or 4 will be considered for ‘RASSO List.’

Conflicts of interest

Where a member of the assessment panel knows an applicant well, belongs to the same chambers or firm, or has acted as referee they should excuse themselves from consideration of that application.

Equalities Monitoring

The Advocate Panel arrangements follow the fundamental principles of the Equality Act 2010 and our Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). Accordingly, all applicants to join the Advocate Panel are required to complete an Equality Monitoring Questionnaire.

The Duty covers age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, gender and sexual orientation and to a limited extent marriage and civil partnership referred to in the Act as ‘protected characteristics’.

The general equality duty is set out in section 149 of the Equality Act and requires that public bodies, in the exercise of their functions, have due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimization
  • Advance equality of opportunity between different groups
  • Foster good relations between different groups

In order to demonstrate compliance with the PSED the CPS is charged with taking reasonable and practicable steps to show due regard to the need to advance equality of opportunity. We are also required to publish relevant and proportionate information to demonstrate compliance.

One of the ways the CPS meets this duty, is by collecting and analysing data on the protected characteristics of applicants to the Panel. This enables us to identify whether groups with protected characteristics are proportionately represented and take action where a group(s) is underrepresented.

Whilst we have a statutory obligation to do this, we believe there is a strong link between a diverse workforce and inclusive culture, public trust and confidence in the CPS. Our approach also supports the government social mobility agenda, which welcomes applicants from all backgrounds.

The data we collect is used for statistical analysis and will not impact on the success of an applicant. All applications will be judged solely on merit.

Advocate Panels - Application Process – New Joiners/Upgrades/Temporary Members (Updated May 2020) Toggle accordion

This document describes the separate processes applicants to the CPS Advocate Panel 2020-2024 for General Crime and Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) List (the 2020 Panel) must follow:

A)   Permanent membership - applications to join the General Crime list as a permanent member at levels 1 to 4
B)    Upgrading - applications from existing members to upgrade their level on the General Crime list
C)    Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) List - applications to join at levels 3 and 4
D)    Temporary membership - applications to join the CPS Advocate Panel General Crime list as a temporary member at levels 2 to 4.
E)    Further information - in respect of the following:

  • References
  • Submission of applications
  • Number of Regional lists
  • Equalities Monitoring

This document does not relate to the CPS Specialist Panels 2018-22 for which separate arrangements are in place. For further information, please visit the relevant page on the CPS website.
 
Introduction

All advocates appointed to join the CPS Advocate Panel must meet the assessment criteria for levels 1 to 4 for the 2020-2024 Panel and agree to abide by the Advocate Panel Members’ Commitment (see elsewhere on this page).

Applicants who join will be appointed for the duration of the Panel. The current Panel is expected to run for four years from 2020 to 2024. CPS has discretion to amend the duration but will only do so in consultation with the Bar Council and Law Society.

An annual application/upgrade window will be open in September each year, although CPS can hold the window at another period at its discretion.

The application and upgrade process will be open and transparent and provide equal opportunity for all applicants. There will be no quotas in respect of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age or disability for candidates being appointed onto the Panel.

A)   Permanent Membership - Applications to join the Advocate Panel

Applicants applying to join the Panel must complete an application form. There are three application forms for the Advocate Panel, as follows:

  • Application form for level 1 General Crime
  • Application form for level 2, 3 and 4 General Crime
  • Application form for the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) List

Applicants must use the approved forms containing the descriptor ‘CPS Advocate Panel Scheme 2020-2024’. Barrister applicants should quote their unique 5-digit Bar reference number and Solicitor Advocate applicants should quote their Solicitor Regulatory Authority (SRA) number.

New applicants must determine which level they wish to apply for and apply for one level only. For levels 2, 3 and 4 the application will automatically be considered for the next level down if it is unsuccessful at the level they applied for.

Applicants must carefully consider which level to apply for based on their own assessment of their ability and experience.

Applications will be assessed on the content of the written application form, examples of work and written references. There will be no interview or other test as part of the assessment process.

It is important that applicants take time and care when completing their application form.  In doing so, applicants should refer to all of the available guidance.

Please note:

  • Incomplete or late applications will not be assessed
  • Paper submissions are not acceptable
  • Word limits must be observed
  • Sensitive identifying case information should not be included. Where sensitive information is contained in a supporting document it must be redacted. If sensitive information is included, the applicant will score 0 for the relevant section.

Each applicant applying to join the Panel must submit, in electronic form only, an application form together with supporting material, where required, and the required number of completed references, as set out below. A separate application form and reference is required for the RASSO List.  

Secure email addresses, such as the CJSM network (www.cjsm.net), are desirable for the application process, although not essential. All successful applicants must sign-up to use secure email as a condition of being appointed to the Panel. CJSM accounts should be accessed regularly to ensure they are not disabled allowing for communications from the CPS to be received.

Pre-Qualification Questions

All new applicants must answer pre-qualification questions as part of the application process.

The pre-qualification questions require new applicants to disclose details and dates of:

  • criminal investigations, charges or prosecutions relating to them;
  • criminal convictions, cautions, reprimands and out of court disposals  recorded against them;
  • disciplinary findings found against them by their professional body or Regulator;
  • civil proceedings for negligence or breach of trust, and
  • instances where the CPS has deemed it necessary formally to remove instructions from them.

The pre-qualification questions also require disclosure of allegations which are pending resolution.

The CPS reserves the right not to accept or further consider applications where, in the view of the CPS, the CPS or other criminal justice participant would not have adequate confidence in the applicant’s judgement or integrity if the applicant was appointed to the Panel, based on the answers to the pre-qualification questions or resulting enquiries.

In this respect the CPS will assess the level of confidence likely to be held in the applicant by;

  • victims and witnesses
  • the general public
  • CPS
  • courts
  • other practitioners, and
  • the police.

In assessing public confidence, the degree of media interest and notoriety arising from any incident or behaviour listed in the pre-qualification questionnaire will be taken into account.

In respect of the pre-qualification issues, including unresolved allegations, all factors will be considered including:

  • nature and seriousness of the allegations;
  • the age of the allegations;
  • individual’s age at time of allegation;
  • circumstances of victims;
  • level of sentence or potential sentence, and
  • appeal procedures.

Responses to pre-qualification questions and any additional information subsequently provided will be anonymised and assessed independently, prior to the full assessment of the applicant’s written application. In most cases pre-qualification assessments will be conducted by a single independent CPS assessor. However, more serious or complex assessments may be considered by a three person panel. If the application is accepted and proceeds to a full assessment, the answers to pre-qualification questions will play no part in the assessment of the application. If the Independent assessor(s) decide the application should not proceed to full assessment, the applicant will be notified. The applicant has a right to appeal this decision and should do so within 28 days of the notification date. The grounds of appeal should be set out in an email and must not exceed 500 words. All appeals will be considered by the relevant Circuit Advocate Liaison Committee.

Applications to join at Level 1

Applications to join the current Panel at level 1 can be submitted any time, provided the applicant meets the qualification requirement and, for barristers, has reached the fifth month of the first six months of pupillage.  

An application to join the Advocate Panel at Level 1 consists of the following documents:

  • Completed Level 1 application form
  • A reference from an appropriate referee
  • Completed Equality Monitoring form

Applicants for level 1 should provide one reference. An appropriate referee might be a pupil master, head of chambers or a chambers advocacy trainer who has seen the applicant perform advocacy.  

Applications to join the Advocate Panel at Level 2, 3 or 4

New applicants can apply to join the current Panel at levels 2, 3 or 4 during the annual application window each September. If unsuccessful at these levels, applications for Level 1 are accepted at any time throughout the year.  

Level 2 - an application to join the Advocate Panel for the first time at Level 2 consists of the following documents:

  • Completed Level 2, 3 or 4 application form
  • References from two (2) appropriate referees
  • One (1) recent example of drafting e.g. skeleton argument, advice (maximum of five (5) pages)
  • Completed Equality Monitoring form  

Level 2 applicants should provide two references. There is no requirement to submit a judicial reference in support of applications to join at Level 2. Please see the requirements below regarding upgrade applications.

Level 3 - An application to join the Advocate Panel at Level 3 for the first time consists of the following documents:

  • Completed Level 2, 3 or 4 application form
  • References from two (2) appropriate referees
  • One (1) recent example of drafting e.g. skeleton argument, advice (maximum of five (5) pages)
  • Completed Equality Monitoring form  

Level 3 applicants should provide two references with at least one from a member of the full-time judiciary. Please see the requirements below regarding upgrade applications.

Level 4 - an application to join the Advocate Panel at Level 4 for the first time consists of the following documents:

  • Completed Level 2, 3 or 4 application form
  • References from three (3) appropriate referees
  • Two (2) recent examples of drafting e.g. skeleton argument, advice (maximum of five (5) pages per document)
  • Completed Equality Monitoring form  

Level 4 applicants should provide three references. At least one reference, but no more than two, should be from members of the full-time judiciary. Applicants with significant prosecuting experience should provide at least one reference from an instructing lawyer. However, if you have not undertaken a significant amount of prosecuting work and are unable to supply such a reference, this does not prevent you from applying. Please see the requirements below regarding upgrade applications.

New appointments to level 4 following a new joiner application will be for an initial 12-month probationary period. Permanent appointment will be determined based on the performance of the advocate and level of work undertaken. The probationary period can be extended at the discretion of the CPS. Those who do not successfully complete their probation period will be notified by the Circuit Advocate Liaison Committee (CALC) and will revert to level 3.     

B)    Upgrading - Applications for upgrading to levels 2, 3 or 4    
 
Members of the Panel can apply to be upgraded by one level, to level 2, 3 or 4, during the annual application window using the Upgrade Application Form.

Applicants who are successful in their upgrade applications will be permitted to apply to upgrade their level again the following year or thereafter if they feel they meet the selection criteria for the level to which they wish to upgrade.

An application to upgrade to Level 2, 3 or 4 consists of the following two documents:

  • Completed upgrade application form
  • One (1) recent example of drafting e.g. skeleton argument, advice (maximum of five (5) pages)
  • Level 4 only - one (1) optional reference (this could be a letter of support or a reference provided on a reference form)

Applicants must complete the Upgrade Application Form (available in the Forms section of this page). The form has sections in relation to the five selection criteria and maximum words counts will apply.

The process for upgrading requires applicants to provide demonstrable evidence of improvement since being appointed to their current level and how they now meet the selection criteria for the next level in relation to:

  • Advocacy
  • Advisory work
  • Experience of dealing with PII issues and Disclosure of unused material
  • Other relevant knowledge, skills and experience
  • Appreciation of the role of a Panel advocate

Since applicants for upgrading will have met the application requirements for their existing level and will be known to the CPS, an abbreviated application process will apply for the upgrade exercise. This removes the need for applicants to provide details of pre-qualification issues, education, and reduces the requirement for references in support of the application.

New appointments to level 4 following an upgrade application will be for an initial 12-month probationary period. Permanent appointment will be determined based on the performance of the advocate and level of work undertaken.  The probationary period can be extended at the discretion of the CPS. Those who do not successfully complete their probation period will be notified by the Circuit Advocate Liaison Committee (CALC) and will revert to level 3.     

C)    Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) List

Advocate Panel members applying to upgrade from level 2 to 3 may also consider applying to become a member of the ‘RASSO List’. Any applicant in this position should also complete the ‘RASSO List’ application form and provide the necessary evidence and submit a reference form for the ‘RASSO List’ selection exercise.

Existing members of the Panel at levels 3 or 4 can apply to become a RASSO specialist by submitting the ‘RASSO List’ application form at any time during the year.   

Applicants wishing to join the RASSO List must have undertaken RASSO Training within the last 3 years. The RASSO List Selection Criteria provides further information in relation to training.

Please note, unsuccessful applicants to the ‘RASSO List’ will be permitted to re-apply but no sooner than six months from the date of the original assessment. Future applications should take into account any feedback provided.

New appointments to the RASSO List will be for an initial 12-month probationary period. Permanent appointment will be determined based on the performance of the advocate and level of work undertaken. The probationary period can be extended at the discretion of the CPS. Those who do not successfully complete their probation period will be notified by the Circuit Advocate Liaison Committee (CALC) and will be removed from the RASSO list.

Members of the ‘RASSO List’ should undertake CPS accredited RASSO refresher training at least every 4 years and dates of training should be clearly endorsed by the applicant on their application form.  Thereafter, once refresher training is completed, Panel members should email the Advocate Panel mailbox to confirm the date the training was completed.  Please see the RASSO List Selection Criteria for more information.

D)    Temporary Membership

In addition to the annual process, applicants can apply for temporary membership of the Advocate Panel between 1 November and 31 July each year. Temporary membership will automatically expire when results are announced following the next annual application window exercise. Applicants should submit full applications during the September application window to secure permanent membership to the current panel. Applicants will only be able to apply for temporary membership once during the 4 year currency of the Panel.

Temporary membership of the CPS Advocate Panel is open to solicitors and barristers who would ordinarily be eligible to apply to join the Advocate Panel.

Temporary membership is not open to advocates who had previously applied to join the Panel but were unsuccessful, to existing Advocate Panel members seeking temporary membership at a higher level or to advocates who have previously held temporary membership during the currency of the 2020 Panel.

The process provides eligible solicitors and barristers with the opportunity to join the Advocate Panel on a temporary membership basis until they can formally apply at the next annual application window.

Applicants can apply for temporary membership to the Panel at levels 2, 3 or 4.

The temporary membership process is aimed at active criminal advocates who can demonstrate good cause to join the Advocate Panel at the level sought. In this context, the opportunity for temporary membership would generally apply to those advocates who can clearly demonstrate that they have been undertaking regular criminal advocacy at the level sought within the last 12 months but are changing roles and moving into self-employment, joining a solicitor’s firm or other organisation where access to the Panel is required.

Applicants for temporary membership will complete and submit a Temporary Membership Application providing evidence of their contact details, professional qualifications and pre-qualification issues. The form is available on the CPS website. The applicant will provide evidence of their recent experience in advocacy and evidence to support the self-assessment of the advocacy level being sought.  

Temporary membership will only be considered for applicants who meet the eligibility criteria for the Advocate Panel.

Applications for temporary membership will be assessed by a two-person panel consisting of a member of CPS and a representative of the Bar Council. Both members will need to agree that temporary membership is appropriate. There is no appeal against a decision not to award temporary membership.

A supporting statement or reference from a previous employer or advocacy assessor is desirable. If necessary, the two-person panel can seek further information or references to support application for temporary membership.

The provision of temporary membership will have no bearing on any later assessment to join the Advocate Panel.

Persons appointed to the Advocate Panel on a temporary membership basis will be required to comply with the requirements of the Advocate Panel and meet the Advocate Panel Members’ Commitment.

E)    Further Information

References

New applicants should secure and submit references in accordance with the guidance.  Although not an exhaustive list, the table below provides examples of appropriate referees at each level.

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 and 4 / RASSO List
  • Pupil Master
  • Heads of Chambers
  • Chambers
  • Advocacy Trainers
  • Pupil Master
  • Heads of Chambers
  • Chambers
  • Advocacy Trainer
  • Instructing Solicitors
  • Leading or opposing Advocates
  • Instructing members of the CPS or other prosecuting authorities
  • Advocacy Assessors
  • Current or retired members of the full-time judiciary
  • Members of the part-time judiciary
  • Heads of Chambers
  • Instructing Solicitors
  • Leading or Opposing Advocates
  • Instructing members of the CPS or other prosecuting authorities
  • Advocacy Assessors

PLEASE NOTE: It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all references are submitted to the CPS in accordance with the guidance no later than the deadline date. The Advocate Panel team will not contact referees to request or chase references on behalf of the applicant.  Accordingly, applicants should ensure that potential referees are given sufficient notice (28 days) of what they are required to provide and the date the applicant requires the reference.

An instructing member of the CPS may compose a reference for an Advocate Panel applicant. However, any reference provided by an instructing member of the CPS will be considered an organisational reference, and not a personal one. The draft reference must be referred to either the Chief Crown Prosecutor/Head of Casework Division, or someone delegated by the Chief Crown Prosecutor/Head of Casework Division, for approval. Applicants should confirm with the CPS member of staff that they have submitted the reference to the Advocate Panel mailbox.

Information for referees can be found in the Explanatory Note to Referees (on this page).

Submission of applications

The application form and all supporting documentation, including references, should be submitted in electronic form.  

References can be sent separately to the application but the applicant should provide the name of the person/s providing the reference and should contact the referee and the Advocate Panels mailbox prior to the close of the application window to ensure the reference has been submitted.

Number of Regional Lists

There will be six regional circuit lists which will form the 2020 Panel, as follows;

CircuitCPS Areas
Midland Circuit
  • CPS East Midlands
  • CPS West Midlands
North Eastern Circuit 
  • CPS North East
  • CPS Yorkshire & Humberside
Northern Circuit
  • CPS Mersey-Cheshire
  • CPS North West
South Eastern Circuit
  • CPS East of England
  • CPS London North
  • CPS London South
  • CPS South East
  • CPS Thames & Chiltern
Wales and Chester Circuit
  • CPS Cymru-Wales
Western Circuit
  • CPS South West
  • CPS Wessex

Applicants applying for a particular Circuit list should select one which best suits their practice.

Where there is good reason to do so, applicants can apply for a place on a second Circuit list. For example, applicants might live on a border between two Circuits or may regularly undertake work on another Circuit.

For applicants applying to join the Wales and Chester Circuit list it is desirable, but not essential, to be able to speak Welsh and conduct proceedings in Welsh. The application process requires applicants to declare their ability to speak/conduct proceedings in Welsh.

Equalities Monitoring

The Advocate Panel arrangements follow the fundamental principles of the Equality Act 2010 and our Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). Accordingly, all applicants to join the Advocate Panel are required to complete an Equality Monitoring Questionnaire.

The Duty covers age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, gender and sexual orientation and to a limited extent marriage and civil partnership referred to in the Act as ‘protected characteristics’.

The general equality duty is set out in section 149 of the Equality Act and requires that public bodies, in the exercise of their functions, have due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimization
  • Advance equality of opportunity between different groups
  • Foster good relations between different groups

In order to demonstrate compliance with the PSED the CPS is charged with taking reasonable and practicable steps to show due regard to the need to advance equality of opportunity. We are also required to publish relevant and proportionate information to demonstrate compliance.

One of the ways the CPS meets this duty, is by collecting and analysing data on the protected characteristics of applicants to the Panel. This enables us to identify whether groups with protected characteristics are proportionately represented and take action where a group(s) is underrepresented.

Whilst we have a statutory obligation to do this, we believe there is a strong link between a diverse workforce and inclusive culture, public trust and confidence in the CPS. Our approach also supports the government social mobility agenda, which welcomes applicants from all backgrounds.

None of the information provided will be visible to those assessing your application. It will only be used anonymously to monitor the inclusivity of our selection processes.

Advocate Panel 2020-2024 Panel Invitation Response Form Toggle accordion

The General Crime List

Below, you will find all of the currently published information and forms relevant to applications for the General Crime List for 2020

Selection Criteria, General Crime: Level 1 (updated March 2020) Toggle accordion

Introduction

This entry level is intended to be a testing ground for the identification of suitable future prosecutors.

The criteria for level 1 are intended to be less onerous than for other levels. If it were otherwise, substantial numbers of applicants would be denied the opportunity to gain experience as prosecution advocates in order to progress to higher levels.

Applicants will generally be admitted to level 1 unless there is:

  • no evidence of advocacy ability,
  • no endorsement from a suitable referee, or
  • the presentation and content of the application is generally poor e.g. spelling, grammar, layout and content.

Entry to the Panel at Level 1 is through this application process and is open to barristers who have reached the fifth months of their first six months of pupillage/tenancy and solicitors who have a Higher Courts Advocacy qualification.

For entry to Level 1 applicants must be able to demonstrate an ability to conduct competently a range of magistrates’ courts prosecutions up to and including a whole day’s list, straightforward Youth Court cases and to conduct simple mentions, guilty pleas, committals for sentence and appeals in the Crown Court. Applicants must provide evidence of up to date legal knowledge relevant to such prosecutions and demonstrate appropriate standards of oral and written advocacy. Applicants should be able to demonstrate that they are able to work well with others in this range of prosecutions.

Application Requirements for Level 1

An application to join the Advocate Panel at Level 1 consists of the following documents:

  • Completed Level 1 application form
  • A reference from an appropriate referee
  • Completed Equality Monitoring form.

References

Applicants for level 1 should provide one reference. An appropriate referee might be a pupil master, head of chambers or a chambers advocacy trainer who has seen the applicant perform advocacy.  

With regard to the type of work Level 1 advocates will be expected to undertake, Referees should be able to state:

  • The extent of their knowledge of the applicant’s work
  • How they assess the applicant’s suitability to conduct prosecution work
  • How they assess the applicant’s ability in respect of advocacy and advisory work.

Evidence of competency

Applicants should provide details of their knowledge, skills and experience on the application form under each heading. They should provide relevant examples based on criminal casework.

When providing evidence to support their application, applicants should clearly state what role they played. For example, if they were led, what was their contribution to the case? Examples can be given of difficulties faced and how they were overcome.

Applicants should take care not to include sensitive information within their application or as a supporting document. Reference to sensitive material will result in a score of 0 for that section.

Selection Criteria for Level 1

The criteria for assessment will be:

  • Advocacy
  • Advisory Work
  • Other relevant knowledge, skills and experience (including relevant defence experience)
  • Appreciation of the role of CPS Panel Advocate

Applicants for Level 1 will be expected to demonstrate the following:

Advocacy criteria

  • Fifth month of their first six months of pupillage or a certificate to practice advocacy in the higher courts
  • The ability to conduct advocacy in respect of all magistrates’ court prosecutions; straightforward Youth Court cases; simple Crown Court mention hearings; plea and case management hearings; committals for sentence, and appeals to the Crown Court.

Advisory Work

  • The ability to conduct advisory work in respect of all magistrates’ court prosecutions; simple Crown Court cases; committals for sentence, and appeals.

Other Relevant Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • IT literacy and the capability to work effectively in the digital CJS environment
  • Academic strength or compensating strength in other factors
  • Relevant defence or regulatory work of an equivalent level, if any

Appreciation of the Role of CPS Panel Advocate

  • A knowledge of ethical standards
  • A knowledge of CPS Values
  • A willingness to work as part of a prosecution team without compromising professional independence
  • Familiarity with, and understanding of, the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the Farquharson guidelines on the role of the prosecution advocate
  • An appropriate understanding of the professional relationship between the CPS, the police and the advocate  
  • An appreciation of the requirements in relation to speaking to victims and witnesses

Selection Criteria, General Crime: Level 2 (updated March 2020) Toggle accordion

Introduction

Entry to the CPS Advocate Panel at Level 2 is through this application process and is open to appropriately qualified barristers and solicitors who have a Higher Courts Advocacy qualification.  

Applicants to Level 2 will generally have in the region of 12 months' trial advocacy experience, but please note this is a guide, not a criterion.

Application Requirements for Level 2
An application to join the Advocate Panel at Level 2 consists of the following documents:

  • Completed Level 2, 3 or 4 application form
  • References from two (2) appropriate referees
  • One (1) recent example of drafting e.g. skeleton argument, advice. This document should be no more than 5 pages
  • Completed Equality Monitoring form.

Please note: The above requirements do not apply to upgrade level 2 applications. Please refer to the separate upgrade applications guidance for full details.

References

Reliance will be placed on the references and referees should be chosen with care. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all references are submitted to the CPS in accordance with the guidance by the deadline date for submission. Failure to submit the correct number of references will result in the application not being considered.

Level 2 applicants should provide two references. There is no requirement to submit a judicial reference in support of applications to join at Level 2.

References can be obtained from any person whom the applicant believes best supports their application and is prepared to stand as a referee. The table below provides examples of suitable referees for level 2.

Level 2
  • Pupil Master
  • Heads of Chambers
  • Chambers Advocacy Trainer
  • Instructing Solicitors
  • Leading or opposing Advocates
  • Instructing members of the CPS or other prosecuting authorities
  • Advocacy Assessors

Evidence of competency

Applicants should provide details of their knowledge, skills and experience on the application form under each heading. They should provide relevant examples based on criminal casework.

When providing evidence to support their application, applicants should clearly state what role they played. For example, if they were led, what was their contribution to the case? In PII applications, what was the point they had to argue? Examples can be given of difficulties faced and how they were overcome.

Applicants should take care not to include sensitive information within their application or as a supporting document. Reference to sensitive material will result in a score of 0 for that section.

Selection Requirements for Level 2

Level 2 advocates will be required to perform any of the work of a Level 1 advocate and, in addition, Youth Court cases, straightforward non-jury work in the Crown Court and jury trials including theft, deception, assault (ABH and Section 20 GBH), burglary (not in aggravated form), possession of drugs and non-fatal road traffic offences. Applicants must be able to demonstrate expert up to date legal knowledge relevant to such prosecutions and demonstrate appropriate standards of oral and written advocacy (including ability to deal with complicating factors such as special measures, expert evidence, significant disclosure/PII issues, and complex points of evidence or law) and should have demonstrated potential to appear as a junior in appropriate cases. They should be able to demonstrate that they are able to work well with others in this range of prosecutions. Applicants should also have sufficient knowledge of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to be able to deal with any confiscation issues raised in Level 2 prosecutions.

While experience in specialisms is referred to in the form, allowance is made for the fact that it will be more difficult for level 2 applicants to show experience in a particular specialism.  Applicants, are however, welcome to refer to specialisms in which they have an interest in gaining experience.

The criteria headings for assessment will be:

  • Advocacy
  • Advisory Work
  • PII and disclosure
  • Other relevant knowledge, skills and experience
  • Appreciation of the role of CPS Panel Advocate

In order to score very highly applicants will be expected to demonstrate excellent standards against a range of competencies in respect of the type of casework listed in paragraph 2, above, including:

Advocacy

  • The ability to conduct trial advocacy efficiently and effectively in the range of cases identified in paragraph 2 above
  • Trial advocacy skills for jury trials in the Crown Court including opening, closing, witness handling and legal argument
  • Sound understanding of evidential and criminal procedure rules, hearsay, bad character etc.  
  • Appropriate use of language and questioning
  • Ability to deal effectively with complicating factors such as special measures, expert evidence and complex points of evidence or law
  • Acts appropriately to assist the court in the proper administration of justice, as required.

Advisory Work

  • Routinely exercises sound judgement
  • Demonstrates a thorough knowledge of law and practice and up-to-date knowledge of law relevant to prosecutions at this level
  • Presents clear and succinct written arguments citing relevant authorities
  • Able to develop a clear case strategy.

PII and disclosure

  • An understanding of the principles of PII and disclosure and ability to put those principles in practice in cases relevant to Level 2
  • Accurately identifies evidence that should be disclosed
  • Able to deal with sensitive PII issues.

Other Relevant Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • IT literacy and the capability to work effectively in the digital CJS environment
  • The ability to conduct confiscation hearings in any of the proceedings in which the applicant may be instructed at Level 2
  • Obtaining and using evidence from abroad, jurisdictional issues, human rights, restraint and confiscation
  • Relevant defence or regulatory work of an equivalent level, if any.

Appreciation of the Role of CPS Panel Advocate

  • Knowledge of ethical standards e.g. completion of the Advocacy & Ethics element of the New Practitioners Programme
  • Acts appropriately when handling issue of diversity or difference
  • A willingness to work as part of a prosecution team undertaking the type of work listed at paragraph 2 without compromising professional independence
  • Familiarity with, and understanding of, CPS policy guidance including the Code, the Farquharson guidelines and policies in respect of victims and witnesses, hate crime and violence against women and girls
  • An appropriate understanding of the professional relationship between the CPS, the police and the advocate.

Selection Criteria, General Crime: Level 3 (updated March 2020) Toggle accordion

Introduction

Entry to the CPS Advocate Panel at Level 3 is through this application process and is open to appropriately qualified barristers and solicitors who have a Higher Courts Advocacy qualification.

Applicants to Level 3 will generally have at least five years' advocacy experience, but please note this is a guide, not a criterion.

Application Requirements for Level 3

  • An application to join the Advocate Panel at Level 3 consists of the following documents:
  • Completed Level 2, 3 or 4 application form
  • References from two (2) appropriate referees (at least one from a member of the full-time judiciary)
  • One (1) recent example of drafting e.g. skeleton argument, advice. This document should be no more than five (5) pages
  • Completed Equality Monitoring form

Please note: The above requirements do not apply to upgrade level 3 applications. Please refer to the separate upgrade applications guidance for full details.

References

Reliance will be placed on the references and referees should be chosen with care. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all references are submitted to the CPS in accordance with the guidance by the deadline date for submission. Failure to submit the correct number of references will result in the application not being considered.

References can be obtained from any person whom the applicant believes best supports their application and is prepared to stand as a referee. The table below provides examples of suitable referees for level 3.

Level 3
  • Current or retired members of the full-time judiciary
  • Members of the part-time judiciary
  • Heads of Chambers
  • Instructing Solicitors
  • Leading or Opposing Advocates
  • Instructing members of the CPS or other prosecuting authorities
  • Advocacy Assessors

Evidence of competency

Applicants should provide details of their knowledge, skills and experience on the application form under each heading. They should provide relevant examples based on criminal casework.

When providing evidence to support their application, applicants should clearly state what role they played. For example, if they were led, what was their contribution to the case? In PII applications, what was the point they had to argue? Examples can be given of difficulties faced and how they were overcome.

Applicants should take care not to include sensitive information within their application or as a supporting document. Reference to sensitive material will result in a score of 0 for that section.

Selection Requirements for Level 3

Level 3 advocates will be required to demonstrate that they are able to competently undertake any of the work of a Level 2 advocate and jury trials in more serious and onerous prosecutions including fraud (non-special casework cases), serious assaults (Section 18), complex robberies, driving offences involving death, child abuse and trials involving child victims and witnesses, rape and indecency cases, video link cases and multi-handed prosecutions of up to four defendants. Level 3 advocates will also be expected to conduct straightforward appeals in the Divisional Court and Court of Appeal. Applicants must also be able to demonstrate expert up to date legal knowledge relevant to such prosecutions and appropriate standards of oral and written advocacy. They should be able to demonstrate that they are able to work well with others in this range of prosecutions. Applicants should also have sufficient knowledge of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to be able to deal with the confiscation issues raised in Level 3 prosecutions.

In order to score very highly applicants will be expected to demonstrate a range of competencies to excellent standards in respect of the breadth of casework expected to be undertaken at level 3, including:

Advocacy

  • The ability to conduct advocacy in the range of cases identified in paragraph 6 above, often attracting local media attention
  • Highly developed trial advocacy skills for jury trials in the Crown Court including opening, closing, sensitive witness handling and legal argument, quoting relevant key authorities
  • Ability to deal with complicating factors such as special measures, presenting or challenging complex expert evidence and difficult or sensitive issues of law and/ or fact
  • Ability to undertake advocacy in complex multi-handed cases, and is able to effectively direct and manage a number of participants in the courtroom
  • Able to manage extremely sensitive cases reliably, including cases with child or vulnerable witnesses
  • Ability to be an effective led junior

Advisory Work

  • The exercise of consistently sound judgement and case management strategies
  • Demonstrates a strong knowledge of law and practice and up-to-date knowledge of law relevant to prosecutions at this level
  • Up to date knowledge of the law relevant to prosecutions at this level, including criminal procedural rules and evidential rules
  • Presents coherent skeleton arguments even in complex cases or addressing complex law, evidence or procedure
  • Presents clear and succinct relevant written submissions demonstrating expertise

PII and disclosure

  • In depth understanding of the disclosure regime and principles of Public Interest Immunity
  • Ability to handle sensitive matters in relation to investigation techniques
  • Understands disclosure requirements even in the context of complex investigations and evidential situations.

Other Relevant Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • IT literacy and the capability to work effectively in the digital CJS environment
  • The ability to conduct confiscation hearings in any of the proceedings in which the applicant may be instructed at Level 3
  • Obtaining and using evidence from abroad, jurisdictional issues, human rights, restraint and confiscation
  • Sufficient knowledge of confiscation and POCA 2002 to be able to handle confiscation as it may arise in any of the cases which fall within their competency
  • Relevant defence or regulatory work of an equivalent level, if any

Appreciation of the Role of CPS Panel Advocate

  • A knowledge of ethical standards e.g. completion of the Advocacy & Ethics element of the New Practitioners' Programme
  • Understanding of diversity and cultural issues and proactive in addressing the needs of people from all backgrounds
  • A willingness to work as part of a prosecution team undertaking the type of work listed at paragraph 6 without compromising professional independence
  • Familiarity with, and understanding of, CPS policy guidance including the Code, the Farquharson guidelines and policies in respect of victims and witnesses, hate crime and VAW
  • An appropriate understanding of the professional relationship between the CPS, the police and the advocate
  • Able to lead a prosecution team and manage the strategic direction of the case.

Selection Criteria, General Crime: Level 4 (updated March 2020) Toggle accordion

Introduction

Entry to the CPS Advocate Panel at Level 4 is through this application process and is open to appropriately qualified barristers and solicitors who have a Higher Courts Advocacy qualification.

Applicants to Level 4 will generally have in the region of ten years' advocacy experience, but this is a guide, not a criterion.

Application Requirements for Level 4

An application to join the Advocate Panel at Level 4 consists of the following documents:

  • Completed Level 2, 3 or 4 application form
  • References from three (3) appropriate referees (At least one reference, but no more than two, should be from members of the full-time judiciary. Applicants with significant prosecuting experience should provide at least one reference from an instructing lawyer. However, if you have not undertaken a significant amount of prosecuting work and are unable to supply such a reference, this does not prevent you from applying)
  • Two (2) recent examples of drafting e.g. skeleton argument, advice. Each document should be no more than five (5) pages
  • Completed Equality Monitoring form

Please note: The above requirements do not apply to upgrade level 4 applications. Please refer to the separate upgrade applications guidance for full details.

References

Reliance will be placed on the references and referees should be chosen with care. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all references are submitted to the CPS in accordance with the guidance by the deadline date for submission. Failure to submit the correct number of references will result in the application not being considered.

References can be obtained from any person whom the applicant believes best supports their application and is prepared to stand as a referee. The table below provides examples of suitable referees for level 4.

Level 4
  • Current or retired members of the full-time judiciary
  • Members of the part-time judiciary
  • Heads of Chambers
  • Instructing Solicitors
  • Leading or Opposing Advocates
  • Instructing members of the CPS or other prosecuting authorities
  • Advocacy Assessors

Evidence of competency

Applicants should provide details of their knowledge, skills and experience on the application form under each heading. They should provide relevant examples based on criminal casework.

When providing evidence to support their application, applicants should clearly state what role they played. For example, if they were led, what was their contribution to the case? In PII applications, what was the point they had to argue? Examples can be given of difficulties faced and how they were overcome.

Applicants should take care not to include sensitive information within their application or as a supporting document. Reference to sensitive material will result in a score of 0 for that section.

Selection Requirements for Level 4

Level 4 advocates will be required to demonstrate that they can competently prosecute all cases where a junior advocate alone is instructed in the Crown Court and beyond, whatever the issues and whatever the number of defendants. They will be expected to handle serious, novel and difficult points of law and fact, sometimes in opposition to leading counsel for the defence. They will be expected to demonstrate a consistently high quality of work whether working alone, with a second junior, or when led. In addition, they will have shown their ability in relation to sensitive witnesses (e.g. where special measures employed) and in handling complex witness issues. They must demonstrate expert up to date legal knowledge relevant to such prosecutions and appropriate standards of oral and written advocacy. They will be expected to handle a wide range of Appellate and Administrative Court work. They should be able to demonstrate that they are able to work well with others in this range of prosecutions. Applicants should also be able to deal with the most complex issues involving confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

In order to score very highly applicants will be expected to demonstrate a range of competencies to an excellent standard in respect of the breadth of casework expected to be undertaken at level 4, including:

Advocacy

  • The ability to conduct highest quality advocacy in the range of cases identified above, often of the utmost gravity
  • A superior grasp of trial advocacy skills for sensitive, high profile jury trials in the Crown Court including opening, closing, witness handling and legal argument often in complex multi-handed cases
  • Ability to deal with highly complicating factors such as presenting or challenging complex expert evidence and difficult or sensitive issues of law and/or fact
  • Presents highly proficient submissions to a standard of excellence before any tribunal including the Crown Court and Higher Courts
  • Ability to deal with complicating factors such as special measures, presenting or challenging complex expert evidence and difficult or sensitive issues of law and/or fact
  • Able to lead a prosecution case with skill and diplomacy in the face of hostile opponents
  • A fluid articulate and intuitive advocate.

Advisory Work

  • Able to present highly proficient written submissions to a standard of excellence
  • The exercise of consistently sound judgementDemonstrates expertise in law and practice and up-to-date knowledge of law relevant to prosecutions at this level
  • Assimilates the relevance of evidence quickly, even when working with voluminous or complex evidence

PII and disclosure

  • In depth understanding of the disclosure regime and principles of Public Interest Immunity
  • Ability to handle complex and sensitive PII issues
  • Able to lead disclosure lawyers/officers and to plan and implement an effective disclosure strategy

Other Relevant Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • IT literacy and the capability to work effectively in the digital CJS environment
  • The ability to conduct confiscation hearings in any of the proceedings in which the applicant may be instructed at Level 4
  • Obtaining and using evidence from abroad, jurisdictional issues, human rights, restraint and confiscation
  • Sufficient knowledge of confiscation and POCA 2002 to be able to handle confiscation as it may arise in any of the cases which fall within their competency
  • Relevant defence or regulatory work of an equivalent level, if any.

Appreciation of the Role of CPS Panel Advocate

  • Acts as a role model for others
  • Knowledge of ethical standards and a leader on issues of diversity and difference
  • Comprehends and successfully leads cases of the utmost gravity, complexity and sensitivity
  • Familiarity with, and understanding of, CPS policy guidance including the Code, the Farquharson guidelines and policies in respect of victims and witnesses, hate crime and VAW
  • An appropriate understanding of the professional relationship between the CPS, the police and the advocate, particularly in cases where there has been lengthy and complex police investigations.

Explanatory note to referees - General Crime List (updated January 2020) Toggle accordion

1.    Applicants to the scheme should identify referees who will provide references to support their application and ensure that any reference upon which they rely is submitted within the permitted timeframe.

2.    The requirement for references for the General Crime List and ‘RASSO List’ are as follows:

  • Level 1 applicants should provide one reference
  • Level 2 and 3 applicants should provide two references
  • Level 4 applicants should provide three references
  • RASSO List applicants (already at level 3 or 4) should provide one reference.

3.    References can be obtained from any person whom the applicant believes best supports their application and is prepared to stand as a referee. The table below provides examples of suitable referees for each level. Please note that there is no longer an expectation that Level 2 applications will be supported by a judicial reference.

Level 1Level 2

Level 3 and 4/

Rape List

  • Pupil Master
  • Heads of Chambers
  • Chambers Advocacy Trainers
  • Pupil Master
  • Heads of Chambers
  • Chambers Advocacy Trainer
  • Instructing Solicitors
  • Leading or opposing Advocates
  • Instructing members of the CPS or other prosecuting authorities
  • Advocacy Assessors
  • Current or retired members of the full-time judiciary
  • Members of the part-time judiciary
  • Heads of Chambers
  • Instructing Solicitors
  • Leading or Opposing Advocates
  • Instructing members of the CPS or other prosecuting authorities
  • Advocacy Assessors


4.    Instructing members of the CPS may compose a reference for an Advocate Panel applicant. Any reference provided by an instructing member of the CPS will be considered an organisational reference, and not a personal one. The draft reference must be approved by either the Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP) or Head of Casework Division, or someone delegated by the CCP/Head of Casework Division.   

5.   The referee must complete the appropriate Reference Form available on the CPS website. The approved reference can then be sent either to the applicant for submission together with their application, or sent directly to the Advocate Panels mailbox.

6.    Referees should be aware that if the CPS subsequently receives a Freedom of Information Act request for release of the reference the request will be considered in line with the guidance from the Information Commissioner.

7.    It remains the applicant’s responsibility to secure the referee’s agreement to provide a reference, to provide the referee with the correct reference form and to ensure that the reference is submitted to the CPS by the deadline date. Accordingly, applicants should ensure that potential referees are given sufficient notice (28 days) of what they are required to provide and the date for submission.

8.     Referees should complete the appropriate reference form. There are three reference forms available on the CPS website, as follows:

  • Reference form for level 1
  • Reference form for level 2, 3 and 4
  • Reference form for RASSO List applicants.

9.    Referees should be in a position to speak with authority about the skills specified in the selection criteria. The assessment boards are aware it is generally more difficult for applicants at level 2 to find referees who can speak with authority on all of the required skills and allowances are made for this.

10.    Referees will be asked to consider the competencies of the applicant in respect of the level applied for under the following headings:

  1. Knowledge of the applicant’s work
  2. Legal decision making and case strategy
  3. Advocacy
  4. Interpersonal skills
  5. Additional information which would assist.

11.    Completed references should either be submitted by the applicant, in a single submission, together with their application form to the Advocate Panels mailbox. Alternately, referees may send a copy of their reference directly to the Advocate Panels mailbox. Please note: The Advocate Panel team will not contact referees regarding outstanding references.

General Crime List Appeal Process Overview (updated May 2020) Toggle accordion

Aim

This paper provides an overview of the Advocate Panel appeal process and the process for submitting an appeal.

General Enquiries

Enquiries from applicants regarding the appeal process should be directed by email to the following address: advocate.panels@cps.gov.uk.

Scope for Appeal

  
Decision at pre-qualification stage not to accept application into the processAppeal against decision not to proceed to full assessment
Unsuccessful at the level applied for but successful at the next level downAppeal against the unsuccessful higher level assessment
Unsuccessful at the level applied for and unsuccessful at the next level downA single appeal can be submitted against both unsuccessful assessments or just against the lower level assessment

Successful for general crime but unsuccessful in relation to the ‘RASSO List’
Applicants can appeal against non-appointment to the ‘RASSO List’
Unsuccessful application to upgradeAppeal against the decision not to upgrade
Unsuccessful application for temporary membershipNo appeal

Submitting an Appeal

Applicants can appeal the decision taken by a pre-qualification assessor(s) for their application not to proceed to full assessment. The appeal should be submitted by email within 28 days of receiving the notification. The appeal must not exceed 500 words. This appeal will be considered by the relevant Circuit Advocate Liaison Committee.

Advocates who apply to join the Advocate Panel or upgrade their level and are unsuccessful for either the level applied for or the next level down may appeal.

Where an applicant is unsuccessful they will receive written feedback outlining where the assessment panel considered the application failed to meet the acceptable standard. This will help applicants to focus their appeal on the selection criteria which let down their application most.

If an applicant wishes to appeal they will have the opportunity to provide reasons for the appeal and any additional evidence using the appeal form. Any written submission must be restricted to the word count on the appeal form.

Applicants may submit one new additional supporting document with their appeal form. The document must be submitted by the appellant with their appeal form and must only be a single document from one author e.g. a letter of support, an example of written work, a reference etc, but it must not be a compendium of documents.

Applicants who wish to appeal are advised to review their original application form against the original guidance on the selection criteria and to address gaps and weaknesses in their appeal form.  

All appeals at level 1 will considered by a single member of CPS staff, who has not previously been involved in the assessment of the appellant’s application.  

All appeals at levels 2, 3 and 4 will be considered by an Appeal board for their first choice circuit. Appeal Boards will consist of a minimum of three members and comprise of CPS staff and/or a senior representative of the Bar. Appeal Boards will proceed with two members where, due to a conflict of interest, a member has to recuse themselves from the assessment process. The Chair for the Appeal Board must be either a Chief Crown Prosecutor or Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor. The process will allow original applications to be re-assessed along with the additional information in the appeal form. Any revised score resulting from the appeal will also apply to the applicant’s second choice circuit.  

All appeal forms should be submitted by the applicant, electronically, to advocate.panels@cps.gov.uk.

All appeals forms must be submitted within 28 days of being informed of the result of the application (e.g. an applicant receiving their result on 1 March will need to submit their appeal no later than 29 March). There is limited scope for applicants to submit a late appeal. Any appeals received after the closing date will not be accepted unless it is for good reason and by prior agreement, for example for reasons of pregnancy, maternity or extended paternity leave.

Result Notification

Applicants will receive the outcome of their appeal via email. This marks the end of the appeal process. There is no further avenue of appeal.

If the appeal is unsuccessful for a new joiner application at levels 2, 3 or 4, applicants will not be permitted to apply again at that level until the next application window. Applications for level 1 are accepted at any time throughout the year.

If the appeal is unsuccessful for an upgrade application, the applicant will be required to wait until the next application window before submitting a further application to upgrade their level.

General Crime List Forms (updated May 2020) Toggle accordion

The Rape and Serious Sexual Offences List (‘the RASSO List’)

Below, you will find all of the currently published information and forms relevant to applications for the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences List (‘the RASSO List’) for 2020

Selection Criteria: The Rape and Serious Sexual Offences List (‘the RASSO List’) (updated January 2020) Toggle accordion

Introduction

Entry to the Advocate Panel specialist RASSO List is restricted to Level 3 and 4 advocates through an application process and is open to appropriately qualified barristers and solicitors who have a Higher Courts Advocacy qualification.

The RASSO List

This specialist list is reserved for advocates at level 3 or 4 who have received CPS accredited training within the last 3 years in respect of rape and serious sexual abuse casework and can demonstrate the experience and ability to undertake cases which exhibit the characteristics of this type of offending.

Applicants will have demonstrated a high standard of ability of criminal advocacy to reach level 3 or 4. In addition they will have experience of conducting sensitive cases with vulnerable witnesses in the Youth Court and Crown Court. They will have developed a good understanding of the issues concerned with rape and serious sexual offence prosecutions to enable them to deal with the sensitivities of these cases to the highest professional standards.

RASSO List advocates will have established a reputation for excellence among court users, including the bench, in dealing with sensitive casework involving vulnerable victims. Applicants will usually have had experience of conducting sensitive or other difficult cases with a sexual element with objectivity, sound judgement and with an excellent approach to victim and witness care. Applicants will have handled prosecutions involving vulnerable victims in a contested trial. Applicants will almost certainly have had experience of defending cases of this nature and will have conducted them to a standard commanding respect.

Applicants will already have demonstrated a range of competencies to an excellent standard to have been appointed at level 3 or 4.

In addition, in order to score very highly for the RASSO List, applicants will need to demonstrate a range of competencies specific to rape and serious sexual abuse casework to a high standard, including:

Consent, Myths and Stereotypes

  • Good awareness of the experience of victims and the impact of rape including the neurological impact of trauma on memory
  • Rape myths and stereotypes: understanding of the latest advice on rape myths and stereotypes in the context of the changing nature of sexual behaviours and encounter, including changes related to the use of technology
  • Rape myths and stereotypes: understanding what evidence might be relevant to the accuracy, reliability and credibility of a complainant’s or defendant’s evidence; and how this can be best handled and presented during a trial;
  • Knowledge of consent issues.

Awareness of CPS Policy in relation to Rape

  • An appropriate understanding of CPS policy on rape and serious sexual abuse relevant to their level
  • The substantive law as contained in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and other relevant legislation
  • CPS commitments to victims and witnesses Including Speaking to Witnesses at Court and the use of intermediaries
  • Recent developments in case law
  • Familiarity with the CPS/Police joint national rape protocol
  • Disclosure of information in cases of alleged child abuse and linked criminal and care directions hearings.

Disclosure

  • Familiarity with key areas, including reasonable lines of enquiry
  • Awareness of guidance relating to digital communications evidence

Advocacy and vulnerable and child victims and witnesses

  • An ability to deal appropriately with vulnerable child and adult victims and witnesses and to use appropriate questioning techniques
  • Full compliance with Ground Rules Hearings, acknowledging that the Rules are sacrosanct and must be adhered to by all participating advocates.
  • Identification of the key issues, resulting in the formulation of focussed, concise and direct questions.
  • Awareness that questions should be pre-drafted for vulnerable and child witnesses and in cases of pre-recorded cross examination (s28 YCJEA 1999).

Medical and Forensic Evidence

  • Good knowledge of forensic science in relation to DNA and rape
  • The role of Sexual Assault Referral Centres
  • The use of medical and forensic evidence in sexual assault cases

Evidence of competency

Applicants should provide details of their knowledge, skills and experience on the application form under each heading. They should provide relevant examples based on sensitive sexual offence related criminal casework.

When providing evidence to support their application, applicants should clearly state what role they played. For example, if they were led, what was their contribution to the case? Examples can be given of difficulties faced and how they were overcome.

References

Applicants for the RASSO List should provide one reference. Referees will be asked to consider the competencies of the applicant against the RASSO List selection criteria under the following headings:

  1. Their role and knowledge of the applicant’s work
  2. Legal decision making and case strategy  
  3. Advocacy
  4. Interpersonal skills
  5. Additional information

Training

Applicants should provide evidence that they have undertaken sufficient and relevant CPS accredited training courses in relation to the prosecution of rape and sexual offences. The training should have been completed within the last three years to be relevant for new applicants.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the postponement of RASSO training events on a number of the Circuits due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the training requirement has been temporarily amended. Accordingly, members of the Advocate Panel wishing to apply for the RASSO list who have not attended a face-to-face course within the past three years must instead confirm they have viewed a recording of an accredited seminar which has been approved by the Circuit Leader. Attendance at a face-to-face training event is not expected at this time and until further notice.

It is the responsibility of individual advocates to ensure they have completed accredited training in accordance with these requirements.

Advocates must undertake accredited refresher training every 4 years. If this does not occur, the relevant Circuit Advocate Liaison Committee will be informed for appropriate action to be taken. Advocates may lose their ability to prosecute RASSO cases.

Accredited training can be completed in one of the following ways:

  • Attendance at a training seminar that has been accredited by the CPS;
  • Attendance with colleagues at an event where a recording of an accredited training seminar is viewed and discussed and the event has been approved by the Bar Council (and CPS) for the purpose of Continuing Professional Development;
  • Attendance at a Serious Sexual Offences seminar organised by the Judicial College;
  • Exceptionally, and with the specific approval of a Circuit Leader, viewing a recording of an accredited seminar in circumstances where it is unreasonable to expect attendance at an organised event or seminar.

Please note, the following courses do not count as RASSO Refresher training:

  • Vulnerable Witness/Advocates Toolkit Training
  • Section 28

Process of Accrediting a Course

For a course to be accredited, the following must occur:

  • The CPS must be contacted prior to the holding of the seminar/course, and a copy of the timetable and any pre-reading, or presentations must be sent to the relevant Policy lead on rape;
  • If the course meets the criteria, then it will be accredited;
  • If the course doesn’t fulfil the criteria, the CPS will inform the course providers with details on where the course can be improved;
  • In such circumstances, once amendment has been made, the course can be re-submitted for accreditation;
  • A member of the CPS must attend any live event for the purposes of quality assurance;
  • If after attending an event, the CPS believes that the content of the course fell below the required standard, then the course organisers will be informed immediately in order to consider how matters can be rectified;
  • Once a course has been held, a list of attendees must be sent to the Advocate Panel mailbox. The Advocate Panel Team maintains a training schedule which records attendance at RASSO Refresher training.
  • CPS accreditation will be valid for four years. After that, the course must be re-evaluated.

Mandatory areas for inclusion in seminars - 2020/21

  • The substantive law as contained in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and other relevant legislation;
  • Recent developments in case law
  • The experience of victims - neurological impact of trauma on memory and dealing with vulnerable victims
  • The latest advice on rape myths and stereotypes, including in light of the changing nature of sexual behaviours and encounters
  • CPS policy including the CPS/Police joint national rape protocol, CPS commitments to victims and witnesses
  • Best practice re: out of court work; digital prosecuting
  • Section 41 YJCEA 1999;
  • Dealing effectively with rape myths and consent issues at court
  • Reasonable lines of enquiry and communications evidence

Completion of CPS e-learning on Consent in Sexual Cases and Coercive and Controlling Behaviour is also required, but can be undertaken as separate training courses. These courses can be accessed via the CPS Prosecution College.

Policies and Protocols

Counsel will be expected to be familiar with the following polices and protocols which can be accessed via the following links. Pre-course instructions should contain links to these documents, available from the 'National protocols and agreements with other agencies' page on the CPS website:

Other guidance

Policy for prosecuting rape
Speaking to Witnesses at Court
CPS Errant Conduct and Poor performance Guide

Prosecution Guidance

CPS toolkits

Other toolkits

Toolkits developed by The Advocates Gateway (TAG) which provide advocates with general good practice guidance when preparing for trial in cases involving vulnerable witnesses.

The Rape and Serious Sexual Offences List (‘the RASSO List’) - Forms Toggle accordion