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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

Decision to Charge

Once the Police have completed their investigations, they will refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on how to proceed. We will then make a decision on whether a suspect should be charged, and what that charge should be.

Find out more about private prosecutions

Prison officers sentenced following death in custody


Married prison officers Shaun and Lisa Percy were today (27 September 2012) sentenced at Preston Crown Court following the death of a prisoner, Christopher Oldham, during the night of 21/22 April 2011 at HMP Preston. They each received 12 months' imprisonment suspended for two years, and were ordered to perform 200 hours of unpaid work.

Neil Dalton, special crime lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service said: "Shaun and Lisa Percy, who worked alongside each other as wardens at HMP Preston, had over 20 years' experience in the Prison Service but wilfully neglected to carry out the duties required of them.

"Shaun Percy was personally responsible for monitoring at-risk prisoners but deliberately failed to carry out the necessary checks. Indeed, Christopher Oldham had died almost three hours before Shaun Percy checked on him. Percy's office was just feet away from the cell, but CCTV shows that he checked on Christopher just twice that night. CCTV also shows that Percy completed his 'pegging', which means he passed Christopher's cell every half an hour as required, but failed to look inside.

"Instead, Percy fabricated entries on the log, claiming that Christopher was lying on his bed watching television and even recorded Christopher telling him he was 'OK'.

"When Lisa Percy was notified of the death, she tried to cover up her husband's failings by entering false entries on the prison log and forging her husband's signature next to them.

"Prison officers owe an important duty of care towards their prisoners and checks exist for a reason.

"This has been a sad and distressing case and I would like to take this opportunity to express my condolences to Christopher's family."


Shaun and Lisa Percy pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office at Preston Crown Court on 5 July 2012.