Law Officers' Departments

The Attorney General and Solicitor General have overall responsibility for the work of:

  • Crown Prosecution Service, which from 1 January 2010 incorporates the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office
  • Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate
  • Treasury Solicitor
  • Serious Fraud Office

In July 2009 a protocol was published which clearly sets out the relationship of the Attorney General with the superintended prosecuting authorities, produced in collaboration with the directors of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which from 1 January 2010 incorporated the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO) and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). The protocol is a significant document: it sets out for the first time in a clear and transparent way how the relationship between the Attorney General and the prosecutors is to work. As well as outlining roles and responsibilities, for example in setting the strategic direction and objectives of the prosecuting authorities, the protocol makes clear the nature and extent of the Attorney General's role in individual prosecution cases. At the same time the protocol underlines and supports the independence of the prosecutors in taking prosecution decisions, and ensures that there is proper public and parliamentary accountability for the conduct of prosecutions. Both the Attorney and Solicitor General remain answerable to Parliament for the prosecuting bodies.

The document marked the end of a thorough review process which led the Government to conclude that the Attorney General should retain the roles of legal adviser to the Government, criminal justice Minister with responsibility for the prosecuting authorities, and independent guardian of the public interest. The Attorney General may continue to issue guidance to prosecutors in his independent capacity as a Law Officer. The Attorney General attends Cabinet when his ministerial responsibilities are on the agenda.