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Public Consultations

We want to hear your views about our prosecution policy and so we conduct consultations to help inform our policy making.

Find out about current consultations and read the results of past consultations

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

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

Victims and witnesses with mental health issues or a learning disability should have access to justice, says DPP

03/08/2009

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has published two new public policy statements to explain how it will deal with cases involving victims and witnesses who have mental health issues or a learning disability to ensure they have access to justice.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, QC, said: "Victims and witnesses who have mental health issues or a learning disability must have the same opportunity as anyone else to give evidence and to have that evidence treated seriously. They should have the same access to justice as any other victim or witness.

"Successful prosecutions can only happen if victims and witnesses feel confident and capable of giving their best evidence."

"Prosecutors must make their decisions free from any assumptions or stereotypes", said Mr Starmer, "and must have a better understanding of the relevant issues."

He said: "We must understand that while a victim or witness who has mental health issues or a learning disability may not at a particular time have 'capacity' - the ability to make their own decisions -, with the right support, capacity may be achieved.

"Where a prosecutor has good reason to be concerned about someone's ability to give evidence, they should consult the victim or witness and, where appropriate, obtain professional advice. They should also ask themselves what assistance the prosecution service can provide in order to help that person give evidence.

It is important that prosecutors do not make assumptions that what may be appropriate in one set of circumstances is appropriate in another."

"We will be assessing the best training we can provide to our prosecutors to increase their knowledge and understanding of these complex areas.

"We sought the views of individuals as well as professionals concerned with mental health and learning disabilities and practitioners in criminal justice.  As a result, it was decided to issue two separate policy statements because people with mental health issues and people with a learning disability will require different approaches and different resources."

Legal guidance will be issued to prosecutors, setting out the relevant law, practice and procedure, so that people with mental health issues or a learning disability are given an equal opportunity to have their case heard in court.

Ends

  1. Media enquiries by email :CPS Press Office or by phone: 020 7710 6091, Out of hours pager: 07699 781926.
  2. Public policy statements explaining how the CPS will deal with cases involving victims and witnesses who have mental health issues or a learning disability.
  3. The Crown Prosecution Service is the independent authority responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution
    • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute
    • Preparing cases for court
    • Presenting cases at court
  4. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). These are organised into 14 Groups, plus CPS London, each overseen by Group Chair, a senior CCP. In addition there are four specialised national divisions: Organised Crime, Special Crime, Counter-Terrorism and the Fraud Prosecution Service. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,250 people and prosecuted 1,032,598 cases with an overall conviction rate of 86.6% in 2008-2009. Further information can be found on our website.

    More about the CPS

  5. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests.

    Publicity and the Criminal Justice System protocol