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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

CPS Law Scheme Praised By Campaigners

30/03/2004

The CPS Law Scholarship Scheme has been praised by a group campaigning for equality for women.

The scheme was examined by a commission set up by the Fawcett Society to investigate the experiences of women working in the criminal justice system.

The commission reported that the scheme aimed to encourage women and minority ethnic students to become qualified lawyers.

Of the scholars, around three-quarters were women and at least 20 per cent were from black and minority ethnic groups.

“The commission applauds this achievement and believes that such schemes offer an excellent opportunity for the criminal justice system to utilise the talent of all its employees,” it said.

However, the commission criticised the criminal justice system as a whole for operating what it claimed was “a glass ceiling”, excluding women from top jobs.

At the time it carried out its investigation last year it found:

  • One woman out of 12 judges in the House of Lords
  • Five women out of 43 chief constables
  • 18 women out of 42 chief officers of probation
  • Seven women out of 42 Chief Crown Prosecutors
  • 31 women out of 138 prison governors

In a report, the commission said that while increasing numbers of women were now working in the CJS, there was little evidence they were “trickling up” to the top jobs.

But the report failed to take into account recent changes in The CPS where a recruitment exercise for Chief Crown Prosecutors resulted in a substantial increase in the number of women CCPs. Now, 30 per cent of the 42 CCPs are women.

In addition, two CPS Board directors and two non-executive directors are women, and females represent more than half the Area Business Managers, the key non-legal senior managers.

The commission claimed barriers to women’s promotion were common across the CJS and included “discriminatory cultures and practices, sexual harassment, inadequate maternity leave and inflexible working arrangements for those with caring responsibilities”.

Commission chair, Vera Baird QC, MP, said: “It is unacceptable that the system that delivers justice – to both women and men – remains male-dominated.

“Without more women across the criminal justice system, the legitimacy and credibility of the system will be undermined over the longer term.”

She added: “The commission is calling for all criminal justice sectors/professions to look seriously at their practices and procedures to see what measures are necessary to create true equality of opportunity at work.”

In response, CPS Human Resources Director Angela O’Connor said: “It is clear that we are now taking really positive steps in the right direction to ensure that our workforce is properly representative.

“As well as the Law Scholarship Scheme, which already has 230 participants, our policies on flexible working for all staff and our new recruitment process will play a key part in ensuring that this upward trend continues.”