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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

Sexual Offences

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 updated the law, much of which dated back to 1956.

The main provisions of the Act include the following:

  • Rape is widened to include oral penetration
  • Significant changes to the issue of consent
  • Specific offences relating to children under 13, 16 and 18
  • Offences to protect vulnerable persons with a mental disorder
  • Other miscellaneous offences
  • Strengthening the notification requirements and providing new civil preventative orders

Find out more about how we prosecute sexual offences

CPS team wins award for historic rape convictions


Prosecutors, Police and forensic scientists today won a national Justice Award* for pioneering work in investigating and prosecuting historic rape cases.

Since 2003, the Metropolitan Police, Crown Prosection Service and Forensic Science Service have worked together on pioneering techniques to investigate unsolved 'cold case' rape cases. These have been often horrific 'stranger rapes' between 1987 and 1995.

Special casework lawyer Claire Ward, from CPS London said:

"None of this could work if the relationships within the team weren't as good as they are. Because the CPS is involved at an early stage we can help investigators see all the arguments defence lawyers are likely to raise in advance. It's an honour to receive such a prestigious award for partnership working. Simply being a finalist was an honour."

New investigation strategies, fingerprint analysis and DNA advances have all been used. The team's first success was the case of Carl Junior Fryde, convicted in 2004 of assaulting a 77-year old woman in 1989 - and even thought the victim had since died of natural causes. Since then a further 29 men have been convcited of 62 offences in London. The team's conviction rate is 82 per cent.

  1. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7710 6088.
  2. *The Justice Awards is a national scheme to recognise the diverse work done by those working within the Criminal Justice System (CJS). Further information and a list of finalists and winners can be found at
  3. CJS practioners across England and Wales nominated teams and individuals who made outstanding contributions to delivering justice. The winners were then selected by senior ministers and officials.
  4. The Justice Awards is run by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform which reports trilaterally to the Home Secretary, the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General. The judging panel includes the aforementioned as well as other high level practitioners across the Criminal Justice System.
  5. The Justice Awards ceremony was held on Monday 5 November 2005 at the Merchant Taylors Hall in Threadneedle Street, City of London.