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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 to examine criminal justice approach to human trafficking


The Director of Public Prosecutions will today (4 December) meet experts and interested parties to look at the barriers to investigation and prosecution of human trafficking offences and what can be done to address them.

Human trafficking is criminalised under two specific pieces of legislation: section 59A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for trafficking for sexual exploitation; and section 4 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004 for trafficking for all forms of non-sexual exploitation. A further offence created under section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 criminalises those who hold another person in slavery or servitude, or requires or forces them to perform compulsory labour.

Today's discussions will inform the prosecution approach in this important area and help identify how the CPS can work with others to increase the number of cases dealt with under human trafficking laws.

Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, said: "We need to strengthen the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking, which is modern day slavery that demeans the value of human life.

"That is why I am meeting with our criminal justice partners including representatives from the police and the National Crime Agency, as well as interested parties and experts in this area to help identify how the CPS can work with others to improve the response of the criminal justice system to this type of offending.

"In cases where there may be links to trafficking, the CPS prosecutes under a range of legislation such as assisting unlawful immigration to a member state, rape, kidnapping, controlling prostitution for gain, false imprisonment and threats to kill, but prosecutions and convictions for specific human trafficking offences need to be improved."

One of the challenges of this type of offending is that it crosses international borders. Police and prosecutors are already working with source and transit countries to improve the global response to trafficking, by helping them to build capacity and by participating in joint investigation teams.

As well as analysing what additional steps can be taken to strengthen investigation and case building, the meeting will also explore why so few cases are brought to the attention of law enforcement agencies and, in turn, referred to the CPS for consideration.

Specific consideration will also be given to the plight of victims in these cases and what action can be taken to support them, ensure their safety and to recognise and consider at an early stage whether a defendant is in fact the victim of trafficking.

Setting out her commitment to supporting victims of human trafficking, the Director said: "Evidence from victims and witnesses plays a key role in helping us bring those responsible for these crimes to justice. We appreciate that sometimes victims are too afraid to disclose their trafficking situation because of fear of retribution from their traffickers.

"One of the points I specifically want to discuss at the meeting is ways in which we can encourage more victims to come forward and report what has happened to them and how we can support them through the process, so that more effective investigations can take place and prosecutions can be instigated."


Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are four national casework divisions: Central Fraud, Welfare Rural & Health, Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. A 'virtual' 14th Area is CPS Direct which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  3. At 31 March 2013 we employed a workforce of approximately 6840 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2350 prosecutors and 4110 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:
  4. 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. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.