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The Role of The Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service is the government department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales.

As the principal prosecuting authority in England and Wales, we are responsible for:

  • advising the police on cases for possible prosecution
  • reviewing cases submitted by the police
  • determining any charges in more serious or complex cases
  • preparing cases for court
  • presenting cases at court

Find out more about the role of the Crown Prosecution Service

Inspectors hail staff dedication

14/07/2004

CPS Bedfordshire managers and staff have shown dedication in the face of heavier workloads and the introduction of new initiatives, say inspectors.

Although the Area had been stretched by demands without the benefit of additional resources, it has continued to perform "soundly", according to their report.

It noted that, generally, decision-making was sound but the recording of decisions and reasons on files could be improved.

While cases needed to be kept under continuing review and action taken when necessary, the inspectors found that Crown Court cases were dealt with well as a result of "good control and pro-active management".

But the delay in many administrative processes, particularly in the CJU, was an issue that managers should address urgently, they said.

The Area's handling of sensitive cases, including domestic violence, child abuse, rape and youth cases, was good. There was scope, however, for greater consultation with and development of Area specialists in these fields.

Among their other findings, the inspectors said discontinuance decisions were good, although their timing needed to be improved.

CPS Bedfordshire had been slow to implement the charging scheme. While duty prosecutors had been deployed to provide advice to officers at Dunstable Police Station in face-to-face meetings and by telephone, similar arrangements elsewhere had been delayed due to staff shortages.

Under the auspices of the Local Criminal Justice Board the Area had played a key role in the development of joint working with other agencies, said the report.

This included working with the courts and the police on the well-planned implementation of the Effective Trial Management Programme (ETMP) pilot - a project aimed at improving the management of cases - and in developing protocols with the Probation Service and Youth Offending Teams.

Similarly, CPS Bedfordshire enjoyed a "supportive and co-operative" relationship with other agencies involved in witness care, although the inspectors said more information could be provided earlier to Witness Service.

Inspectors made six recommendations, including the proposal that unit heads ensure lawyers are clear about the standards of disclosure expected of the CPS.

Others called for discussions with police on the full use of the joint performance monitoring system and a review by management of staff availability to ensure coverage of core business and court attendance requirements.

Commenting on the findings, CCP Richard Newcombe said: "I am very pleased the inspectors have recognised the tremendous work put in by CPS Bedfordshire staff at a time when the police are providing us with a higher workload, but our resources have not increased.

"The inspectors have recognised that our work is sound. There are areas in which we can improve, and we will be tackling them over the next year."