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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

DPP sets out what is expected of public prosecutors


The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, QC, has today published a Statement of Ethical Principles, setting out what is expected of public prosecutors in England and Wales.

He said: "This Statement sets out the ethical principles that underpin and guide our work as public prosecutors. It confirms our commitment to internationally agreed standards of probity, fairness, openness and accountability in our dealings with others, whether they are victims, defendants or other criminal justice legal professionals.

"It applies to all prosecutors, including Crown Advocates and Associate Prosecutors in the Crown Prosecution Service, the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office, and those briefed to appear on their behalf.

"It is important to us that we inspire the confidence of the communities we serve. People have a legitimate expectation that those prosecuting on behalf of the public prosecution service will work to the highest possible standards and I expect all advocates to support our objectives in this area."

The Statement lays down standards of conduct and practice expected of every prosecutor, including:

  • Basic obligations under the law and the Criminal Procedure Rules;
  • Professional conduct in general - which means acting with integrity, impartiality and fairness, preserving professional confidentiality at all times;
  • Professional conduct in criminal proceedings - upholding the duty to the court to act with independence and in the interests of justice;
  • Consider the concerns of victims and witnesses when their personal interests are, or might be affected, subject to the requirements of a fair trial.

The Statement was drawn up in discussion with the Bar, the Law Society, and the Institute of Legal Executives and is consistent with the Codes of Conduct of professional regulators.

Mr Starmer said: "It has long been recognised that the prosecutor has a special and overriding responsibility to act without fear, favour or prejudice, in the interests of justice and to provide the cornerstone of an open and fair criminal justice system.

"The criminal justice system continues to evolve. In the document published in the summer, The Public Prosecution Service: setting the standard, I made clear we need to evolve from a criminal justice system to a service. The Statement of Ethical Principles is part of that service.

"Our role as prosecutors is to protect the public by prosecuting firmly and fairly, and by doing so in an open, transparent and independent way. Our duty is to serve our communities and to do justice in every case.

"We want to give people an assurance of consistency in the way we prosecute. Whether we use a public prosecutor or an external advocate, we expect the same commitment to our ethical principles. This is the least the public can expect from us and what we will deliver."


  1. Media enquiries by email :CPS Press Office or by phone: 020 7710 8127, Out of hours pager: 07699 781926.
  2. The term "prosecutor" is used to describe members of the Crown Prosecution Service who are designated as Crown Prosecutors; prosecutors who are members of the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office; and Associate Prosecutors who are designated under section 7A of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 and who exercise their powers in accordance with the current instructions issued by the Director under that section.
  3. You can find the Statement of Ethical Principles on the CPS website
  4. 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
  5. 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

  6. 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