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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 round the clock service takes half a million calls


CPS Direct, the Crown Prosecution Service division set up to provide the Police with out of hours charging decisions, has now responded to over 500,000 requests for legal advice from police officers in England and Wales.

Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Direct Barry Hughes said:

"In passing the milestone of half a million calls, CPS Direct prosecutors have been able to play a major part in improving the way that the CPS works with the police around the clock to deal with criminals both effectively and robustly. I was delighted to see that in the recent Cabinet Office Capability Review of the CPS, CPSD was highlighted as a 'significant success' for the Service.

"CPS Direct has over 130 lawyers who make over 10,000 charging decisions every month. Over 90 per cent of police officers who call CPS Direct are connected to a prosecutor within one minute.

"This early, professional legal advice enables the strongest possible case to be built and ensures offenders are charged with the right offences before the case comes to court. By working more closely together, the CPS and the police make the best of our respective skills and ensure that more criminals are brought to book."

The half-millionth call involved an offence of domestic violence. Domestic violence incidents, which often occur at night and weekends, form a large part of CPS Direct's workload. In 2006-07 nearly a quarter of calls related to domestic violence incidents.

  1. The Crown Prosecution Service operates under a structure of 42 geographical areas in England and Wales. CPS Direct (CPSD) is a virtual 43rd Area that affords the police access to 24/7 charging decisions from the Crown Prosecution Service.
  2. Established as a pilot project in September 2003, CPSD has been responsible for providing out of hours charging advice to all police forces across England and Wales since April 2006. It provides this service through a network of experienced CPS prosecutors. These prosecutors are based at home, and are linked to the police by a high speed IT and telephony network. CPSD operates 5 pm-9 am, Monday to Friday and 24 hours a day at weekends and Public Holidays.
  3. In 2006/2007 CPSD answered 183,034 calls. For the same period CPSD provided 127,911 charging decisions, making nearly one in three of all pre-charge decisions in England and Wales.
  4. In 2006/2007 incidents of domestic violence accounted for 22.54 per cent of all CPSD recorded cases, compared to a national CPS average of 13.22 per cent.
  5. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8106.