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Areas of Research Interest

|Publication

The CPS is an independent service that prosecutes cases that have been passed to us by the police. Prosecutors work to the Code for Crown Prosecutors: a test that allows us to determine whether a case meets the criteria for prosecution. This means we have to decide:

  • Whether there is enough evidence to charge
  • Whether it is in the public interest for the CPS to bring the case to court.

In common with other government bodies, the Crown Prosecution Service offers guidance on the topics that might be of interest to us, as a guide for those wishing to collaborate on research. This takes the form of a number of Areas of Research Interest, listed below. This list is not exhaustive and will be updated regularly. For more information, please see the Application Process and form below.

For some of these topics there may be Statements of Requirements issued, and a formal tendering process. For others, our expectation is that academics working in this area may seek funding from other sources, but in the hope of non-financial support from the CPS. While the CPS is more likely to offer non-monetary support for proposals that fall within these topic areas, there is no guarantee that a proposal will be supported purely by virtue of the fact it covers a topic listed here.

The Criminal Justice System comprises a number of related bodies. Researchers may also want to consider whether any proposal they seek to offer is more in keeping with the Areas of Research Interest published by others. For example: 

The CPS ARIs are designed to reflect the CPS 2025 Strategic Priorities, overarching considerations and emerging issues.

Strategic Priorities

Our people
  • What are the push and pull factors that influence lawyers to join the CPS?
  • Why do we have more prosecutors from some demographic groups than others?
  • What do our victims and witnesses need from our prosecutors, and how can we support this? 
Digital
  • How is the use of new technology affecting the courtroom experience, and outcomes for prosecutors and victims?
  • How can digital technology be used to support prosecutors in their roles? For example, can sentiment analysis and use of algorithms help make sense of evidence, and of case files? What are the barriers?
Strategic partnerships
  • How can we best align with others in the CJS?
  • What drives better partnering, and what are the barriers?
  • What – if anything – can partnering in other sectors tell us about what might work in the CJS?
Casework
  • How can we maintain high quality outcomes, and further improve 
    • speed of case progression; 
    • victim attrition; and 
    • fairness and justice for all? 
Public confidence
  • What do the public know about the CPS? 
  • What are the drivers of public confidence?

The Code

Sufficiency of evidence
  • Who can we best rely on to offer evidence in court? 
  • Who can we describe as an “expert witness”? How should we determine this? What checks and balances might we have?
Public Interest
  • How do the public view our interpretation of “public interest”? Is this likely to change over time? What are the social trends that might affect this? 
  • How do the public view the CPS? What are the drivers of this perception? 
  • How is society’s perception of the law evolving? What do the public understand by fairness and justice, and is that changing? Does this differ for different ethnic groups? Does it differ by age group? Does it differ for newer legislation and contexts compared to more familiar laws and contexts? What are the crimes the public expect us to focus on?
    • For example, how well do different groups understand the laws on hate crime, and when they could seek justice? 
    • How well do the public understand laws regarding social media, and its use in crimes such as inciting violence?

Overarching and emerging issues

Victims and Witnesses
  • How can we best engage with victims and witnesses to find out more about their needs, and how to support them?
Changing crime
  • What are the implications for the CPS of new types of crime? What specialist expertise will we need? For example:
    • How will investment in crypto currencies and Non Fungible Tokens affect the nature of financial crimes? 
    • How will changing social attitudes affect our prosecutions of hate crimes? 
    • How can we best model the likely impact of proposed crimes (such as misogyny) on our service? What is the level of public interest? 
  • With increasing numbers of complex crimes being committed across national boundaries, how do we improve our ability to collaborate on prosecutions across borders?
Marginalised groups
  • Ethnic minorities and how they experience the CJS compared to other groups
  • How do we address disproportionality? What works well? 
  • How can we better understand violence against women and girls, and in particular identify any warning signs? How well is the concept of controlling and coercive behaviour understood and dealt with in the CJS?
  • How can we best identify perpetrators and deal with victims of organised immigration crime?
  • How can we best support an aging population? How can we best protect very young victims and witnesses?
  • Are there barriers to those with protected characteristics coming forward for help, and / or seeing a case through the system?
Crime types
  • How do conviction rates differ by crime type? What (if any) difference in the variation does the CPS play, and how can we improve performance?

Available to download

Crown Prosecution Service research application form
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