Feedback and complaints
If you would like to provide feedback or make a complaint on any aspect of our service, we would like to hear from you.
When you tell us about a good experience it helps us identify best practice and encourages us to improve our service. If you have a bad experience, you can make a complaint (if you have been directly involved in the matter you are complaining about). If you are not directly involved in the matter about which you wish to complain you can provide us with negative feedback. If you want to complain, the first thing to do is to talk to your local CPS or the member of staff involved. They will try to resolve the problem immediately. You can also make a complaint to us directly through the completion of the online form.
If you are a victim seeking to exercise your right to request a review of a CPS decision not to bring charges against a suspect, discontinue proceedings or offer no evidence in a case, please go to the Victims' Right to Review page.
Do you want to give negative feedback, or is this a formal complaint about a legal decision (excluding victims right to review) or service standard?
How long do I have to complain?
We do not deal with complaints about things that happened more than six months ago. If you are not satisfied with our explanation you must tell us within one month of receiving it.
Who can complain?
The complaint can be made by you, or by someone you ask (in writing) to make the complaint such as:
- A member of your family or friend
- A support group
- A legal adviser or other professional
Who cannot make a complaint?
You cannot use the CPS complaints form to make a complaint:
- If you are a defendant and want to get a case against you dropped
- If you have been convicted of a crime and want to get your conviction overturned
Independent Assessor of Complaints Toggle accordion
The Independent Assessor of Complaints (IAC) operates independently from the CPS and is responsible for the handling and investigation of complaints from members of the public in relation to the quality of the service provided by the CPS and its adherence to its published complaints procedure.
The IAC works to ensure the CPS demonstrates its vision to be transparent, accountable and fair by:
- Providing an independent, high quality and accessible process for reviewing service complaints that have exhausted the CPS internal process
- Seeking to right individual wrongs
- Driving improvements in public services and inform public policy
Complaints can be referred to the IAC if you remain dissatisfied with the explanations following Stages One and Two of the complaints procedure and your complaint is a service complaint (the way in which we have conducted ourselves). You must do this within one month of receiving our explanation at Stage Two of the procedure.
Your complaint should outline why you are not satisfied with the responses provided at Stage One and Two of the complaints procedure and why the matter should be reviewed. You must do in writing either by email or post.
Your complaint will be acknowledged and reviewed by the IAC and you will receive a full response within 40 working days of receipt. If it is not possible to complete the investigation within that time, the IAC will contact you to explain why there is a delay and provide a date by which he hopes to provide a response.
You can read the Terms of Reference under which the IAC operates on this website. These outline the role and responsibilities of the IAC.
Stephen Shaw CBE, Independent Assessor of Complaints for the CPS
c/o 102 Petty France, London SW1H 9EA
Independent Assessor of Complaints - Terms of Reference Toggle accordion
1.1 The Independent Assessor of Complaints for the CPS (IAC) reviews complaints in respect of the quality of service provided by the CPS and its adherence to its published complaints procedure and the complaints aspects of the Victims' Code.
2. Role and Remit
2.1 The remit of the IAC is to consider service complaints at Stage 3 of the CPS Feedback and Complaints procedure. Service complaints can be defined as 'any complaint relating to the service standards and conduct of CPS staff'. Examples of service complaints include being treated rudely or unfairly by staff members, failure to provide the correct information, or unnecessary delays in either the service provided or in responding to complaints.
2.2 The IAC cannot review complaints that are solely about prosecution decisions. Legal complaints are only considered at Stages 1 and 2 of the procedure. Victims who wish to exercise their right to request a review of decisions not to bring charges, discontinue proceedings, or offer no evidence in cases, should use the Victims' Right to Review scheme (VRR).
2.3 The IAC will not consider service complaints relating to live or ongoing proceedings (whether criminal or civil) until those proceedings are completed. This includes cases that qualify under VRR but have not yet exhausted all stages of the scheme.
2.4 The IAC can consider the service elements of 'hybrid' complaints: for example, those that embrace both legal and service aspects.
2.5 Complaints must be referred to the IAC for review following the completion of Stages 1 and 2 of the complaints procedure, if the complainant remains dissatisfied. Complaints that are linked to ongoing civil proceedings must be deferred until the conclusion of all civil proceedings.
2.6 Complainants can also refer complaints to the IAC directly where the CPS has not adhered to its complaints procedure although Stages 1 and 2 may not have been completed. This could include circumstances where complaints handling at Stages 1 and 2 gives rise to further complaint.
2.7 Complaints must be submitted within one calendar month of the Stage 2 response. However, the IAC has discretion in relation to this time limit where there are exceptional factors.
2.8 The IAC also acts as the guardian of the CPS Feedback and Complaints policy, overseeing the process and supporting the CPS to develop best practice and improved service standards for victims and witnesses. In that capacity, the IAC will review samples of cases that have not reached Stage 3 to assess the quality and timeliness of Stage 1 and 2 responses. The audit will involve a dip sample of all complaints to provide an annual update to the CPS Board, and to further develop internal guidance, protocols and training materials.
2.9 The Victims' Code outlines victims' entitlements to ensure that services recognise and treat victims in a respectful, sensitive and professional manner without discrimination of any kind. Victims are entitled to make a complaint if their entitlements under the Code have not been met.
2.10 The Attorney General may commission the IAC to undertake bespoke investigations on behalf of the Attorney General's Office or the CPS. The nature of these investigations may fall outside the usual IAC remit; in such cases specific terms of reference for the review will be drawn up.
3. Review Process and Time Standards
3.1 As an independent post holder with quasi-judicial functions, the IAC sets their own procedure. However, in general an IAC review will consist of an examination of the papers at Stages 1 and 2 of the complaints procedure. The CPS Area/Central Casework Division will submit and prepare the relevant paperwork and a background note for consideration by the IAC.
3.2 The IAC will consider the information provided and where appropriate request further reports and statements.
3.3 The IAC will decide the extent to which any part of a complaint within the IAC jurisdiction should be reviewed after taking into consideration the information and documents supplied by the CPS Area/Central Casework Division and any other information judged relevant. In so doing the IAC will keep in mind the public interest. Factors against a detailed review include:
- The CPS Area/Central Casework Division has conducted a proportionate and reasonable investigation of the complaint and has found no administrative failure or mistake;
- The essence of the complaint is the complainant’s objection to the content and/or the outcome of CPS policy or legislation;
- It would be disproportionate for the IAC to review a complaint in detail, given its nature, seriousness and the potential outcome of a review.
3.4 Where a detailed review is required, the IAC will develop a draft response within 30 working days of the matter being referred to them, which will be sent to the relevant CPS Area/Central Casework Division to allow for fact-checking in advance of the final response and recommendations being concluded. The timescales will begin once the complaint has been submitted to the IAC by the CPS Parliamentary & Complaints Unit.
3.5 The CPS will have a maximum of 10 working days to respond to the draft report.
3.6 A full response will be provided to the complainant within 40 working days. If it is not possible to complete the review and reply within that timeframe, the IAC will contact the complainant to explain why there is a delay and provide a date by which a response can be expected.
3.7 The IAC will acknowledge receipt of complaints within five working days.
3.8 The IAC will normally conclude the review with a formal report. However, the IAC will be at liberty to complete a review in whatever means they judge most appropriate.
3.9 The review process will be supported by CPS staff who will provide a back office function and advise the IAC on the eligibility of complaints under these terms of reference.
3.10 Final reports will be sent on behalf of the IAC to the complainant and the Director of Public Prosecutions. They may also be sent to the relevant Chief Crown Prosecutor / Head of Division.
4. Remedies and Compensation
4.1 The normal form of redress recommended by the IAC will be a formal apology on behalf of the CPS.
4.2 The IAC may also recommend changes to CPS policies and practices that could help prevent a recurrence of the circumstances giving rise to the complaint.
4.3 The IAC may not recommend disciplinary action against CPS staff but may recommend that the case for disciplinary action is considered under the CPS's HR procedures.
4.4 The IAC can recommend that the CPS consider making a compensatory or modest consolatory payment where there is clear evidence of uninsured material loss or severe distress cause by maladministration or poor service by the CPS.
4.5 Recommendations will be made to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The IAC's recommendations are not binding, but if the CPS decides not to accept a recommendation it will explain its decision in writing to both the complainant and the IAC.
4.6 Victims have the opportunity to refer their complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), via an MP, following the IAC review where they remain of the view that the Service has failed to meet its obligations under the Victims' Code. The IAC will notify complainants of their right to consideration by the PHSO when appropriate.
4.7 Complainants who are not victims of crime do not have a right of access to the PHSO; the IAC review is the final stage of the complaints process in these cases.
5. CPS Responsibilities
5.1 The CPS will provide:
- In-year data to the IAC to inform the complaints reporting process
- Open access to complaints and feedback systems and records
- Unrestricted access to such information as the IAC requests for the purpose of conducting a review
- Executive support for the office of the IAC.
5.2 The CPS will ensure that the referral process for the IAC is clear and accessible for complainants and that the executive support arrangements are robust. Fact-checking of draft IAC reports will be undertaken in a timely manner no longer than the timetable in paragraph 3.5 above. Where the CPS is unable to meet that timetable it will inform the IAC immediately.
5.3 The CPS will formally acknowledge IAC reports and recommendations and provide confirmation by letter whether the recommendations have been accepted and implemented.
6. Reporting Arrangements
6.1 The IAC will report biannually to the Director of Public Prosecutions and the CPS Board. The CPS will publish the IAC's annual report on its website.
7. Contact Details
Independent Assessor of Complaints for the CPS
c/o CPS, 102 Petty France, London SW1H 9EA
8. Review Period
8.1 The IAC terms of reference will be reviewed annually.
8.2 Supporting FAQ will be updated on a biannual basis.
Crown Prosecution Service
Independent Assessor of Complaints - Reports Toggle accordion
Reports to the CPS Board
Independent Assessor of Complaints' annual report to the CPS board for 2017-2018, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF
Independent Assessor of Complaints' annual report to the CPS board for 2016-2017, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF
Independent Assessor of Complaints' biannual report to the CPS board for April-September 2016, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF
Independent Assessor of Complaints' annual report to the CPS board for 2015-2016, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF
Independent Assessor of Complaints' biannual report to the CPS board for April-September 2015, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF
Independent Assessor of Complaints' annual report to the CPS board for 2014-2015, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF
Independent Assessor of Complaints' biannual report to the CPS board for April-September 2014, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF
Independent Assessor of Complaints' annual report to the CPS board for 2013-2014, available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF
Independent Assessor of Complaints - Complaints Audit 2016-2017: This paper summarises an audit of CPS complaints in 2016-2017 that did not progress beyond stages 1 or 2. Available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF
Independent Assessor of Complaints - Complaints Audit 2015-2016: This paper summarises an audit of CPS complaints in 2015-2016 that did not progress beyond stages 1 or 2. Available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF
Independent Assessor of Complaints - Complaints Audit 2014-2015: This paper summarises an audit of CPS complaints in 2014-2015 that did not progress beyond stages 1 or 2. Available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF
Independent Assessor of Complaints - Complaints Audit 2013-2014: This paper summarises an audit of CPS complaints in 2013-2014 that did not progress beyond stages 1 or 2. Available to download in Adobe Acrobat PDF
Feedback and Complaints via email and post
You can send us your complaint via email or post. Just download the file below, complete it and email or post it to the appropriate Area. Email and postal addresses for all of the CPS Areas are available in the 'About CPS' section of the website.
Gallwch chi anfon eich cwyn atom trwy e-bost neu bost. Llwythwch y ffeil isod i lawr, ei chwblhau a'i e-bost neu ei phostio i'r Ardal briodol. Mae cyfeiriadau e-bost a phost ar gyfer holl Ardaloedd y CPS ar gael yn adran 'Ynglŷn â CPS' y wefan.