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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

Support for Victims and Witnesses

Being a victim or a witness to a crime is not easy, but, with your help, we work hard to bring offenders to justice. Throughout the justice process we will support you and treat you with dignity.

The aim of witness care units is to provide a single point of contact for Victims and Witnesses, minimising the stress of attending court and keeping  victims and witnesses up to date with any news in a way that is convenient to them.

Witnesses are essential to successful prosecutions and we are committed to making the process as straightforward as we can.

Read the fact sheet about witness care units

Find out more about being a witness

PDF Information

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Chief Inspector's report


The efforts of the CPS to communicate with victims, improve the treatment of vulnerable witnesses and engage the community have been praised by the Service's Chief Inspector.

In a report to the Attorney General, Stephen Wooler said the CPS had also responded positively to the recommendations of thematic reviews carried out by the Inspectorate.

Commenting on performance he said: "It has been particularly pleasing to note the real progress made by the CPS in its approach to equality and diversity issues, notably its handling of racially aggravated crime, and in taking forward the important recommendations into the investigation and prosecution of rape and those on domestic violence."

But he pointed out that although there had some improvement in casework performance, the CPS "needs to do more to raise its game in the relative weak aspects of its performance and, importantly, to ensure greater consistency between Areas".

For this reason, it was important that performance management arrangements were established across all Areas, he stressed.

The report, which covered the period October 2002 to March 2004, said the charging scheme had been well received by the police. In some Areas, however, the resources required by the CPS to operate it had an "adverse impact on other aspects of casework".

Addressing progress on persistent young offenders, the report said it was apparent that the better performing Areas were underpinning overall performance "to a significant effect".

As a CPS-inspired initiative, Direct Communications with Victims had been a major step forward in making the criminal justice system more accountable to victims.

The introduction of special measures for vulnerable or intimidated witnesses had been adopted enthusiastically by the CPS. In most Areas community engagement was being pursued " with more energy and commitment", according to the report.

Among concerns highlighted by Mr Wooler were the number of discharged committals, the high use of agents instead of CPS lawyers in magistrates' courts and the efforts by smaller Areas to cope with the raft of criminal justice reform initiatives.

Responding to the report the Director, Ken Macdonald QC, said it provided an encouraging picture of progress in key areas.

"The report recognises progress in our charging programme, which will result in fewer discontinuances and more early guilty pleas and which has been welcomed by the police.

"Our strong commitment to contributing to the Public Service Agreement targets for the criminal justice system is acknowledged.

"I am committed to improving the CPS's performance in those areas of our work where the Inspectorate has identified concerns."

HMCPSI Annual Report 2002-2004 (pdf)