The 2008 Autumn Performance Report for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) sets out performance and progress against the Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets for the Criminal Justice System (CJS) and against its Departmental Strategic Objective. New targets were introduced as part of the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR 2007) and came into effect from 1 April 2008.
The CPS was set up in 1986 as an independent authority to prosecute criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. In undertaking this role, the CPS:
- Advises the police during the early stages of investigations;
- Determines the appropriate charges in all but minor cases;
- Keeps all cases under continuous review and decides which cases should be prosecuted;
- Prepares cases for prosecution in court and prosecutes the cases with in-house advocates or instructs agents and counsel to present cases; and
- Provides information and assistance to victims and prosecution witnesses.
Code for Crown Prosecutors
Before charging a defendant and proceeding with a prosecution, Crown Prosecutors must first review each case against the Code for Crown Prosecutors. The Code sets out the principles the CPS applies when carrying out its work. Those principles are whether:
- There is enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against each defendant on each charge; and, if so,
- A prosecution is needed in the public interest.
The Director is under a statutory duty to publish the Code for Crown Prosecutors. The fifth edition of the Code was published on 16 November 2004 and reflects the responsibilities for Crown Prosecutors to determine charges.
Human Rights Act
The CPS is a public authority for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998. In carrying out their role, Crown Prosecutors must apply the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights in accordance with the Act.
The CPS is headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Keir Starmer QC, who took office on 1 November 2008. For the period covered by this report the DPP was Ken Macdonald QC. The Director is superintended by the Attorney General who is accountable to Parliament for the Service. The Chief Executive is Peter Lewis, who is responsible for running the business on a day-to-day basis, and for equality and diversity, human resources, finance, business information systems, and business development, allowing the Director to concentrate on prosecution, legal issues and criminal justice policy.
The CPS has 42 Areas across England and Wales. Each Area is headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP) who is responsible for the delivery of a high quality prosecution service to his or her local community. A 'virtual' 43rd Area, CPS Direct, is also headed by a CCP and provides out-of-hours charging decisions to the police. Three casework divisions, based in headquarters (HQ), deal with the prosecution of serious organised crime, terrorism and other specialised prosecution cases.
Each CCP is supported by an Area Business Manager (ABM), and their respective roles mirror, at a local level, the responsibilities of the DPP and Chief Executive. Corporate administrative support to Areas is provided through a network of business centres.
41 Areas are part of a 14 Group structure (excluding CPS London). The Groups have a specific remit to deliver measurable improvements across a range of functions. Each Group is overseen by a Group Strategy Board, chaired by a Group Chair who is a senior CCP and, from 1 October 2008, has line management responsibility for the other CCPs in the Group. Each Group Chair is supported by a senior ABM. All the CCPs and ABMs of the Areas within a Group are members of the Group Strategy Board.
The CPS works in partnership with the Home Office, Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and other agencies throughout the CJS to reduce crime, the fear of crime, and its social and economic cost; to dispense justice fairly and efficiently and to promote confidence in the rule of law.
Flowing from this, the CPS restated its vision in 2008.
The CPS is a prosecution service that is confident and independent, efficient and effective – becoming truly world class. Everything that we do aims to deliver justice for all and to make our communities safer.
The CPS subscribes to the Attorney General's vision for the Law Officers' Departments and is working to become a world class, independent prosecution service that delivers a valued public service. This will be achieved through the delivery of the Service's six priority programmes:
- Playing its part in achieving the agreed PSA targets for 2008-11;
- Improving performance in the magistrates' courts;
- Completing and embedding the Advocacy Strategy;
- Restructuring the delivery model to improve performance, particularly on serious cases, and improve value for money;
- Focusing support to victims and witnesses; and
- Ensuring that it leads and manages well to get the best from all CPS people, and that it engages with them, partners and communities to improve the Service.
Public Service Agreement Targets
The PSA targets for the CJS from CSR 2007 for 2008-11 are:
- PSA 23 - Make communities safer; and
- PSA 24 - Deliver a more effective, transparent and responsive CJS for victims and the public.
These targets are the joint responsibility of the CPS, Home Office and MOJ, and the CPS works in partnership with the police and courts to deliver them.
Departmental Strategic Objective (DSO)
The CPS's DSO for the period is:
To bring offenders to justice, improve services to victims and witnesses and promote confidence, by applying the Code for Crown Prosecutors, adopting a proportionate approach to determine which offenders should be charged and which should be diverted from court, and by firm and fair presentation of cases in court.
CSR 2007 requires the CPS to deliver £69 million (comprising £66 million resource and £3 million capital) in efficiency savings by March 2011.