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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 the HMCPSI report on Custody Time Limits


The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, has welcomed a report from the HMCPSI into the way the Crown Prosecution Service handles Custody Time Limits (CTLs).

Mr Starmer said: "I am pleased that the Inspectorate has recognised the improvements we have made in the past year which have accompanied a rising caseload, and also the obstacles we face in dealing with a system which has become over complicated.

"The report noted significant progress and areas of good practice, for example ensuring that staff absences do not affect the monitoring of CTLs, and also that the CPS is operating a "double checking" routine of electronic and manual diary checks to address some of the complexities of the system.

"But difficulties remain, as noted by the Inspectorate. When a defendant is in custody the CPS can only proceed to trial once all the evidence has been gathered by both the prosecution and defence, and the court has identified suitable availability. Therefore, even if the CPS is ready, we are sometimes compelled to ask for extensions to Custody Time Limits.

"Over the past six months we have worked alongside the Inspectorate with a heightened monitoring of our performance of CTLs, and this improved detection of failures has highlighted the areas in which we, and the rest of the criminal justice system, can work to improve the compliance rate. The latest indications are that failures are now going down significantly.

"I accept the recommendations of this report and welcome its findings. This process has helped to highlight the flaws of the current process, and I will now be considering the best way forward to improve the system for all concerned. I will publish any findings in due course."