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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 response to HMCPSI report on discontinuances


In response to the HMCPSI report on its review of the decision-making and management of discontinued cases and discharged committals by the Crown Prosecution Service, Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald QC said:

"We welcome this report and its findings. I am particularly pleased that the inspectors found that over 96 percent of decisions in discontinued or dropped cases complied with the Code of Crown Prosecutors and that there has been a small but significant reduction in the proportion of cases discontinued in the magistrates' courts. This continues a steady downwards trend in the discontinuance rate with year on year reductions.

"Inevitably, there are always going to be occasions on which a case needs to discontinued at court. Further evidence may come to light after the defendant has been charged that weakens the prosecution case, for example, or the victim may no longer be willing to give evidence at court. The fact that the inspectors disagreed with the decision to discontinue in less than four percent of cases clearly demonstrates that in the vast majority of cases our prosecutors are taking good decisions to discontinue based on sound evidential and public interest reasons.

"We will now study the report in detail in order to address the inspectors' recommendations, in particular the need to reduce the number of discharged committals."

  1. Media enquiries to CPS Press Office on 020 7710 6091.
  2. The report of Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate's (HMCPSI) Review of the Decision-Making and Management of Discontinued Cases and Discharged Committals in the CPS is available from Andreas Harding, HMCPSI Communications Manager, on 020 7210 1143.