Mersey-Cheshire

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is responsible for prosecuting criminal cases, which are investigated by the Police in England and Wales. CPS Mersey-Cheshire is one of 14 CPS areas across England and Wales and is led by our Chief Crown Prosecutor, Siobhan Blake.

Merseyside Cheshire mapCPS Mersey-Cheshire covers the counties of Merseyside and Cheshire.

Liverpool is the main centre of population, boasting a large city centre, a number of high profile sports clubs, working port and busy nightlife. This unique socio-economic and cultural mix can provide challenges to our service and generate peaks and troughs in certain crimes - such as public order offences during large events.

Merseyside is unique in that it has just one Crown Court centre. However the caseload dealt with by the CPS team is significantly higher than some Areas three times its size. More serious cases are heard at Liverpool Crown Court. There are three magistrates' court centres in Merseyside - Liverpool, Bootle and Wirral.

Cheshire comprises the council areas of Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East and includes population centres such as Warrington, Runcorn, Chester, Macclesfield and Crewe.

There are two Crown Court centres - Chester and Warrington - as well as three magistrates' court centres in Chester, Warrington and Crewe. 

Our legal team is made up of highly qualified, trained prosecutors and professionals who manage and conduct criminal prosecutions at a number of different levels. 

In the last year, almost 88 per cent of our prosecutions in the Area’s Magistrates’ Courts resulted in a conviction. In the same period, 80 per cent of our cases in the Crown Court resulted in a conviction.

Senior Crown Advocates and Crown Advocates work on the most serious and complex cases. Essentially the CPS equivalent of barristers, they will argue for the prosecution at court against defence lawyers.

Our teams of prosecutors and associate prosecutors prepare and present cases and prosecute offenders at Magistrates' and Crown Courts.

They are supported by paralegal officers and paralegal assistants who help prepare cases, work with the police to build files and sometimes join the prosecutor in court.

Our operational delivery and support teams play a role as vital as those of our prosecutors. The teams manage and build files, liaise with partners to obtain the correct information and ensure each file is up-to-date and at the court ready for trial.

Victims and witnesses are at the heart of what we do and we have a team of specially trained people working in our Witness Care Unit who help and support people through each stage of the justice process.

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Siobhan Blake - Chief Crown Prosecutor

Siobhan Blake_Mersey Cheshire_web.jpgIn July 2016, Siobhan Blake was appointed Chief Crown Prosecutor of CPS Mersey-Cheshire, having previously been the Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for Cymru-Wales Area since 2012.

Siobhan qualified as a solicitor having studied law at Southampton and joined the CPS in 1994 as a trainee solicitor. After qualification Siobhan worked in private practice for a period before returning to the CPS.

Siobhan is an experienced prosecutor who has advised upon and prosecuted many high profile cases, becoming a specialist in the prosecution of rape and serious sexual offences. She obtained her Higher Rights of Audience in 2004 and became a frontline manager in 2005.

Siobhan has been at the forefront of the work undertaken by the CPS to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) (domestic violence, rape and other violent offences in which the victims are predominantly women). She is now the Deputy National Lead for the CPS on this issue.

John Dilworth - Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor

John Dilworth, Deputy Chief Crown ProsecutorJohn joined the CPS 30 years ago, having formerly been a Magistrates' Clerk in Liverpool and Bootle. In 2001 he was appointed Head of the Preston Trials Unit. In 2003, he was made Head of a combined unit in South West Lancashire and in 2008 was made Head of the Lancashire/Cumbria Complex Casework Unit. In July 2011, John assumed responsibility for the newly formed North West Complex Casework Unit.

In July 2012, John was recognised in the CPS North West Staff Awards for Outstanding Leadership and his Unit was recognised in the same awards for Outstanding Team Work. In July 2014, John took up the post of Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North East. He became Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Mersey-Cheshire in 2017.

Louise Rice - Area Business Manager

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Our Magistrates' Court Unit prosecutes offences of domestic violence, assaults, criminal damage, minor public disorder incidents, minor traffic offences (excluding those dealt with by the police as police-led prosecutions), possession of drugs, dangerous dog offences, offences of dishonesty and commercial burglaries.

The list is not exhaustive but generally comprises of any offence where the maximum permitted sentence for each offence does not exceed six months' imprisonment or one year if two or more relevant offences are to be considered.

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The Crown Court Unit deals with cases such as murder, robberies, serious assaults, dwelling house burglaries, complex fraud, the supply and trafficking of drugs, and the most serious road traffic offences, especially those that result in a fatality.

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The Complex Casework Unit houses a team that works in collaboration with the police to tackle organised and serious cross border crime, and to robustly tackle and disrupt criminal enterprises.

The bulk of their casework comes from serious and organised crime, particularly drugs importation and distribution, money laundering, organised crime multi defendant homicide and serious fraud, usually involving a value of over £1million plus at least one element of complexity such as multiple defendants/companies/victims and/or complex financial/restraint issues.

Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) Unit Toggle accordion

The Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) Unit is a dedicated and specialised team who prosecutes cases such as rape, serious sexual offences, child abuse, child sexual exploitation, honour-based violence and Female Genital Mutilation.

The staff on the unit all have a great deal of understanding of the sensitivities of prosecuting cases of this nature and how difficult and harrowing it can be for a victim from the first step of making a complaint to the police, through to giving evidence in a trial.

Working with you

CPS Mersey-Cheshire is committed to involving local people in what we do, whenever we can. We value the expertise and grassroots knowledge of community and voluntary sector groups who help ensure that we can continually improve the service we provide.

Local Scrutiny and Involvement Panel

Community engagement is important to us and we involve key stakeholders in improving our service through our Local Scrutiny and Involvement Panel (LSIP). The panel aims to:-

  • ensure that CPS Mersey-Cheshire considers the views of communities in order to identify local concerns;
  • undertake scrutiny of our work on hate crime, Violence Against Women and Girls, and cases of local interest, to improve local performance and support victims and witnesses effectively;
  • undertake consultation with local communities on strategies and plans with specific reference to improving policy, casework, employment and training; and
  • assist CPS Mersey-Cheshire in ensuring the effective delivery of Core Quality Standard 12 and demonstrating compliance with the Equality Act 2010.

The Panel is the key mechanism by which the Area engages with local communities, in particular, those communities with protected characteristics in relation to age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and sexuality.

LSIP meetings are chaired by Siobhan Blake, Chief Crown Prosecutor or, in her absence, John Dilworth, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor. 

If you would like further information about the LSIP please contact Jennifer Friday, our Inclusion and Community and Engagement Manager on jennifer.friday@cps.gov.uk

Victim Liaison Unit

Sometimes, the prosecution decides to discontinue a case or substantially alter a charge.

When this happens, we will tell victims or their families what we have done and why.

In some of the more serious cases, we will offer to meet the victim or their family to explain our decision.

Our Victim Liaison Unit handles all of these communications, as well as complaints and the Victims' Right to Review scheme.

This scheme allows victims to ask for a review of a decision to discontinue proceedings or offer no evidence in a case.

Please note that the Victims' Right to Review scheme applies only to qualifying decisions made on or after 5 June 2013.

If you'd like more information on a case, have a complaint, a general enquiry or would like to know more about the Victims' Right to Review scheme, email Victimliaison.Merseycheshire@cps.gov.uk 

Victims' Right to Review

Contact information for Defence

The following email addresses are for the sole use of defence firms who are on the Criminal Justice Secure email system (CJSM).

Please note, if you send an email from any account other than a CJSM account we will not respond electronically to your request.

Please ensure that the following information is provided in the email:

SUBJECT BOX - Unique Reference Number (URN) and court centre.
BODY OF EMAIL - Defendant's name, date of birth, date of hearing and nature of request.

Failure to include this information will result in a delay processing your request.

Mersey-Cheshire Crown Court Unit Team

Defence Correspondence: LiverpoolCrownCourt@cps.gov.uk.cjsm.net or Chester.PCPT@cps.gov.uk.cjsm.net

Bail Applications/Variations: MerseyCheshire.BailApps@cps.gov.uk

Mersey-Cheshire Magistrates' Court Unit Team

Defence Correspondence: MerseyCheshire.MCU@cps.gov.uk.cjsm.net

Self-represented defendants - please use the above email addresses without the .cjsm.net suffix

Unity Team

Defence Correspondence: Merseyside.unityteam@cps.gov.uk.cjsm.net

Bail Applications/Variations: MerseyCheshire.BailApps@cps.gov.uk.cjsm.net

Mersey-Cheshire CPS Dedicated Rape Unit

Defence Correspondence: LiverpoolCrownCourt@cps.gov.uk.cjsm.net or Chester.PCPT@cps.gov.uk.cjsm.net

Bail Applications/Variations: MerseyCheshire.BailApps@cps.gov.uk.cjsm.net

Self-represented defendants - please use the above email addresses without the .cjsm.net suffix

Further reading