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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

Alison Saunders introduces the CPS


Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, introduces the CPS in a short video.

Download this movie in Quicktime format (approx 24mb)


"Hello, I'm Alison Saunders. I am the Director of Public Prosecutions, heading the Crown Prosecution Service. I've been in the CPS since 1986, and I'm the first 'internal' DPP. I've done many jobs within the CPS, working in CPS London, as Chief Crown Prosecutor in Sussex, Head of the Organised Crime Division, and also worked for our Policy Division, the Inspectorate and the Attorney General's Office.

"The Attorney General superintends prosecution and I report directly to him, and I work very closely with Peter Lewis, our Chief Executive, who's responsible for running the day-to-day business of the CPS.

"The CPS is the principal and largest prosecuting authority in England and Wales. It's divided into 13 geographical Areas with a Chief Crown Prosecutor in each, leading prosecutors delivering justice in their local Area. We also have four specialist Casework Divisions based in Headquarters, and they're responsible for dealing with the most serious and complex crime from large scale frauds through to terrorism cases. CPS Direct is our 24/7 charging advice centre, which delivers charging advice to the police nationally. Not only do we deliver advice to the police and other investigative agencies, but we also prepare the cases for court and also deliver advocacy in court as well. We will help and support victims and witnesses, providing them with information.

"We do all this in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, which is the document that tells prosecutors the tests they must apply in order to decide whether or not to prosecute a case. To do this they must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of a conviction, and also that it is in the public interest to prosecute the case. Unless both of those tests are passed, We will not prosecute cases.

"We prosecute around 800,000 cases a year in the magistrates' and Crown Courts. The overwhelming majority of our caseload is prosecuted in the magistrates' court, but a substantial number of serious and complex cases are prosecuted by the CPS in the Crown Court. To do this, we employ about 7,000 staff, of which 93% are in the front line, delivering operational services.

"We abide by a set of values that assist our staff in their day-to-day operational duties; the first of these values is independence and fairness. We will prosecute all cases fairly and independently, and we will make sure that we will do so without bias.

"We will be honest and open. This means not only will we be honest and transparent in our dealings with casework, but it also means that we will be honest and open with our staff and, importantly, with members of the public and we will explain what we do, how we do it, and answer any questions that they may have.

"We will treat everyone with respect. This extends not only to treating our staff and colleagues with respect, but those who come into contact with the criminal justice system and also members of the public who may make enquiries of us.

"And finally, we will behave professionally and strive for excellence in everything we do. This means not only in our casework, but also making sure that we behave in the best possible manner, that we improve our services wherever we can, and that we do so efficiently, making the best use of taxpayers' money.

"I hope that this makes you understand a little better about the CPS, and we would welcome your feedback, which you can give us through this website.

"Thank you very much."