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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

Prosecuting Special Crime

Deaths in custody, allegations against the police, corporate manslaughter, medical manslaughter, serious public corruption, election offences, appeals to the House of Lords and extradition are just some of the types of cases dealt with by specialist Crown Prosecutors in the Special Crime Division.

Find out more about extradition

Find out more about how we prosecute bribery and corruption

Find out how we prosecute election offences

Find out more about how we deal with allegations against the police

Find out about our prosecution policy for deaths in custody

Find out about unduly lenient sentences

IPCC and CPS agreement will improve inquiries into deaths in police custody


A joint Crown Prosecution Service and Independent Police Complaints Commission agreement has been signed today to improve the effectiveness of investigations into deaths in police custody and other major incidents.

The protocol will also cover investigations such as fatal shootings, serious assaults, perverting the course of justice, corruption, racially discriminatory behaviour and cases involving organised crime or drug trafficking.

In the best interests of the investigation, IPCC is encouraged to liaise with the CPS at the earliest opportunity, so that a CPS lawyer can be allocated. The IPCC is also encouraged to consult the CPS for advice at any stage.

Following the Attorney-General's review of the CPS's handling of deaths in custody cases, the early advice of the CPS will be sought. One of their senior lawyers will contact families so affected. To fulfil this role it is essential for the CPS to be notified of an investigation at the earliest possible stage. The IPCC in its role as investigator, or when managing an investigation, will be responsible for contacting the CPS.

IPCC Chair Nick Hardwick said: "This agreement marks the start of a better way of working together. In the past it was very hit and miss whether the CPS were called in at an early enough stage.

"The IPCC will apply the recommendations that arose from the report into the way Operation Lancet was handled. Case conferences, chaired by the IPCC, will be used to decide the investigative strategy, the focus of the inquiry and report back on progress.

"The CPS is pledged, like ourselves, to improve communication with the families of those who die in police custody. If they are not brought in at an early stage such pledges cannot be fulfilled," he said.

CPS Casework Director Chris Newell said: "This protocol formalises the excellent working relationship that has already been established between the CPS and the IPCC. It will help both investigators and prosecutors to improve the service that we provide to victims and to the public generally. Early and regular communication is the key to this improvement and the protocol provides a firm framework for the way in which the CPS and the IPCC will work together in the future."

The protocol can be read in full on our web site or the IPCC web site on

Further details: IPCC press office 020-7166 3214 or 020-7166 3142, out of hours 07717 851157, CPS press office 020-7796 8106