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.
CPS 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.
Executive Team Toggle accordion
Siobhan Blake - Chief Crown Prosecutor
In 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.
Howard Gough - Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor
Howard qualified as a solicitor having studied law at Manchester and joined the CPS in 1998, having formerly been a Magistrates' Clerk in Manchester. He was promoted to his first management role in 2007 when he had responsibility for a combined team - magistrates' and Crown Court units - in Bolton, before moving to the North West Complex Casework Unit (CCU) in 2011.
He became the Head of the CCU in 2013. During that tenure he successfully dealt with many complex and high-profile prosecutions. Howard was also the Area lead for Disclosure, International Enquiries and Serious Organised Crime. In 2018 he became the lead for the Lancashire and Cumbria Crown Court team with responsibility for all prosecutions in that region.
He became Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Mersey-Cheshire in November 2018.
Louise Rice - Area Business Manager
Magistrates' Court Unit Toggle accordion
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.
Crown Court Unit Toggle accordion
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.
Complex Casework Unit Toggle accordion
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.