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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

Guilty verdicts in Liverpool Crown Court child sexual exploitation trial


Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West Area said: "The details of the offences that we have heard in this trial in the last few weeks have shocked and appalled us all. No child should ever be exploited in the way these young victims were.

"These men intentionally set out to target young, vulnerable teenagers who they saw as easy prey for their depraved sexual gratification. By pretending to show them affection and by giving them food, money, alcohol and attention, they groomed and controlled them and demanded repayment through sex. When the girls resisted or objected to what was happening they subjected them to coercion, threats and violence.

"The jury saw through the defendants' lies and deceit. Through a successful prosecution we have brought nine of the defendants to justice today and they face significant penalties for their crimes.

"The result today would not have been possible without the tremendous courage and determination of the victims to give evidence against their abusers. Supporting them has been our number one priority throughout this prosecution. They have received specialist victim care and we put in place special measures at court so that instead of giving evidence in front of their abusers they could do so through a video link to the court.

"We now have a clearer understanding of how these child sexual exploitation networks operate, and our specialist knowledge and understanding of these cases has developed considerably in recent years. They are, in effect, organised crime, and we approached this prosecution in the same way as we would an organised crime case.

"Police and prosecutors in Operation Span left no stone unturned in their determination to put these defendants in the dock and to get convictions. The message to others carrying out similar offences is clear. We take these cases very seriously. The police will find out who you are and we will bring these cases to court."