The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is the principal prosecuting authority in England and Wales. Here are some key points about the CPS:
Role: The CPS is responsible for prosecuting criminal cases on behalf of the state. Its primary role is to review the evidence gathered by the police and other investigative agencies and determine whether there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring a criminal charge against an individual or organization.
Independence: The CPS operates independently of the police and other law enforcement agencies. It exercises its functions impartially and makes decisions based on legal considerations, including the sufficiency of evidence, the public interest, and compliance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
Code for Crown Prosecutors: The CPS follows the Code for Crown Prosecutors, which sets out the principles and criteria guiding the decision-making process. The code requires that there be sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is required in the public interest.
Prosecution decisions: The CPS makes decisions regarding whether to charge a suspect, what charges to bring, and whether to proceed with a prosecution. These decisions are made based on an assessment of the evidence, the legal framework, and the public interest.
Case preparation: Once a decision to prosecute is made, the CPS works closely with the police and other investigative agencies to prepare the case for court. This includes gathering and reviewing evidence, obtaining witness statements, engaging with experts, and ensuring that all relevant material is disclosed to the defence.
Trial advocacy: The CPS employs qualified lawyers known as Crown Prosecutors or Crown Advocates who represent the prosecution in court. They present the case, examine witnesses, make legal submissions, and respond to the arguments put forward by the defense.
Victim and witness support: The CPS also provides support to victims and witnesses throughout the criminal justice process. This includes providing information, updates on the progress of the case, and ensuring that the needs and concerns of victims and witnesses are taken into account.
Appeals: The CPS has the authority to bring appeals against acquittals or lenient sentences, as well as responding to appeals by the defence against convictions or excessive sentences. Appeals are heard in higher courts, such as the Court of Appeal.
Relationship with other agencies: The CPS works closely with the police, the courts, and other criminal justice agencies to ensure the effective and efficient prosecution of cases. It liaises with these agencies throughout the process, exchanging information and collaborating on matters of mutual interest.
The Crown Prosecution Service plays a crucial role in the criminal justice system of England and Wales, ensuring that cases are prosecuted fairly, impartially, and in the public interest. Its work contributes to maintaining law and order, protecting the rights of individuals, and upholding public confidence in the justice system.
You can learn more about this topic with our Criminal Practice notes.