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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

Prosecuting Homicide

Murder and manslaughter are two of the offences that constitute homicide.

Manslaughter can be committed in one of three ways:

  1. killing with the intent for murder but where there is provocation, diminished responsibility or a suicide pact.
  2. conduct that was grossly negligent given the risk of death, and resulted in death.
  3. conduct, taking the form of an unlawful act involving a danger of some harm, that caused death.

With some exceptions, the crime of murder is committed, where a person:

  • of sound mind and discretion (i.e. sane):
  • unlawfully kills (i.e. not self-defence or other justified killing)
  • any reasonable creature (human being)
  • in being (born alive and breathing through its own lungs)
  • under the Queen's Peace
  • with intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.

There are other specific homicide offences, for example, infanticide, causing death by dangerous driving, and corporate manslaughter.

Find out more about prosecuting homicide

Statement from Nigel Pilkington on conviction of Levi Bellfield


Nigel Pilkington, head of the Crown Prosecution Service South East Complex case Work Unit said:

"The disappearance of Milly Dowler, the long wait to know whether she was still alive, and then the confirmation of her death, are cruel and intolerable moments for any parents or relatives to have to go through.

"The Dowler family have shown enormous strength and dignity in reliving these terrible events that deprived them of a daughter and sister who loved them and who they loved so very much. The man responsible, Levi Bellfield, has been convicted by a jury, unanimously.

"Milly was only 13 when she disappeared on Thursday 21 March 2002 near Walton-on-Thames station where she had stopped for some chips with her friends at the station cafe as any young teenager might do, before heading home.

"We know that she never arrived there. She was last seen by witnesses leaving the cafe, walking a short distance along Station Avenue and then she was gone; gone in the blink of an eye, lost in a moment of time.

"I would like to thank all the witnesses and, in particular, I would like to thank Rachel Cowles for her courage in giving evidence in this trial so many years after the event.

"After consideration of the judge's ruling this morning that the jury should be discharged, and discussing the matter with Rachel and her family, we have informed the court and the judge we will not be seeking a retrial on the charge of her attempted abduction.

"The CPS South East Complex Casework Unit, the Police and Prosecuting Counsel have worked very hard in this case put before the jury. The prosecution case relied almost entirely on circumstantial evidence, but circumstantial evidence can be compelling in building up a picture of guilt and, in this case, the various strands of circumstantial evidence have convinced the jury.

"Many of Milly's school friends made statements in this case and some gave evidence, including Danielle Sykes and Hannah MacDonald, who are now young adults in their early 20s, as Milly would have been.

"For them, time has moved on from a little after four o'clock on that sunny afternoon in March 2002. But for Milly, a perfectly ordinary day, made up of a sequence of perfectly ordinary events, was ended by a wicked man whose path she so momentarily but fatefully crossed that day.

"I am pleased for the Dowler family, their relatives and friends, who have waited nine years to see the man responsible for Milly's abduction and death convicted, that today their wait is finally over."