Advanced Search

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 all but minor cases
  • preparing cases for court
  • presenting cases at court

Find out more about the role of the Crown Prosecution Service

Decision to Charge

Once the Police have completed their investigations, they will refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on how to proceed. We will then make a decision on whether a suspect should be charged, and what that charge should be.

Find out more about how we decide whether to charge a suspect

Find out more about private prosecutions

Keir Starmer QC discusses Core Quality Standards


Core Quality Standards lay down the quality of service that the public are entitled to expect from the CPS.

Whenever anybody reports a crime, that is investigated by the police. At the end of that investigation somebody has to decide whether there is a case to go to court, and that is the job of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). So we are the gateway to criminal proceedings. If there is going to be a case we the CPS will then conduct the case in court.

Core Quality Standards are our way of demonstrating what the service is that we deliver, and the standards to which the public can expect us to deliver it. If you like it is a sort of contract. I don't think you can hold anyone to account if you don't know what they are doing. So this is a very important part of the understanding between us and the public that we serve.

You may ask why we haven't been doing this all along, and the answer to that is that we have. If you go into any courtroom in England and Wales you will see some very good examples of what the Crown Prosecution Service delivers. This is about having achieving a level of consistency right across England and Wales and having a clear understanding with the public about the service that we deliver.

One of the standards that we are committed to is supporting victims and witnesses and in particular enabling them to give their best evidence, which can be very challenging. An example of that using Core Quality Standards is a young victim in Staffordshire who was autistic and suffered a robbery of his mobile phone. Using Core Quality Standards we were able to support him in giving best evidence in court, so that is a live example of the standards at work.

The Core Quality Standards can be found on our website and I really would encourage everybody to have a look at them. They are simple, they are very straightforward and they will help in understanding the service that we deliver to the public.