Crown Prosecution Service Introduction



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Crown Prosecution Service

Introduction

  • Responsible for prosecuting people in England and Wales who have been charged with a criminal offence.
  • It was created by the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.

The head of the Crown Prosecution Service is the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

  • The head of the Crown Prosecution Service is the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
  • The Director is responsible to the Attorney General (a government minister) who is responsible to Parliament for the CPS.

Key duties

  • advising the police on cases for possible prosecution
  • determine the charge in all but minor cases.
  • preparing cases for court
  • the presentation of cases at court
  • appointing private barristers and solicitors to present cases at court.

Brief History

  • Individual police forces had the responsibility of prosecuting most crimes until the creation of the CPS.
  • The 1962 Report of the Royal Commission on the Police recommended that all police forces should have their own prosecuting solicitors’ departments. Not all police forces acted on this recommendation.

The Philips Report 1981:

  • The Philips Report 1981:
    • The police should not investigate offences and decide whether to prosecute
    • The different police forces around the country used different standards to decide whether to prosecute
    • The police were allowing too many weak cases to come to court, which was leading to a high percentage of judge-directed acquittals.

The 1982 Home Office White Paper: An Independent Prosecution Service for England and Wales argued for a national prosecution service.

  • The 1982 Home Office White Paper: An Independent Prosecution Service for England and Wales argued for a national prosecution service.
  • Parliament passed the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 which created the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) with the Director of Public Prosecutions as its head.

Glidewell

  • The Review of the Crown Prosecution Service (The Glidewell Review) was published in 1998.

Three key criticisms of the CPS

Criticism One

  • There needed to be a move away from minor cases in the Magistrates’ Court in order to concentrate on more serious crime in the Crown Court.
  • Also it was felt that the CPS did not get involved enough in presenting its own cases in the courts.

Criticism Two

  • The organisation, structure and the management style needed to change
  • In particular, criticisms were made over the lack of an adequate electronic case management system and the absence of a suitable chief administrator.

Criticism Three

  • The CPS needed to work more closely with the other criminal justice agencies and in particular the police.
  • Criticism was made in particular of the lack of communication between the police and the CPS

Response to Glidewell

  • The CPS are now use a ‘statutory charging arrangement’ whereby they select what offence to charge an offender with in all but the most minor of cases

The CPS have ‘CPS Direct’ which is an out-of-hours telephone service to provide the police with charging advice through the night and at weekends.

  • The CPS have ‘CPS Direct’ which is an out-of-hours telephone service to provide the police with charging advice through the night and at weekends.
  • The CPS now use an electronic case management system known as ‘COMPASS’.

The CPS now has a Chief Executive to take responsibility for and to advise the DPP on the administration and financial management of the CPS.

  • The CPS now has a Chief Executive to take responsibility for and to advise the DPP on the administration and financial management of the CPS.
  • Each CPS area also has a business manager to take responsibility for the effective management of that area.

CPS has begun a policy of increasing the amount of in-house advocacy it uses

  • CPS has begun a policy of increasing the amount of in-house advocacy it uses
  • The CPS is trying to improve the services, information and support provided to the victims and witnesses of crime.

The CPS is getting involved with various community groups such as victim groups and groups representing minorities.

  • The CPS is getting involved with various community groups such as victim groups and groups representing minorities.

The Code for Crown Prosecutors

  • The Code for Crown Prosecutors sets out the basic principles to be followed by when making charging and prosecuting decisions.
  • The Code for Crown Prosecutors is issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions under the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 s.10.

Crown Prosecutors also have to follow additional guidance on charging a suspect in ‘The Director's Guidance on Charging’ which the DPP issues under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 s.37A

  • Crown Prosecutors also have to follow additional guidance on charging a suspect in ‘The Director's Guidance on Charging’ which the DPP issues under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 s.37A

Decisions on both charging and prosecuting suspects are based on the Full Code Test outlined in the Code. There are two parts to this test:

  • Decisions on both charging and prosecuting suspects are based on the Full Code Test outlined in the Code. There are two parts to this test:
    • The Evidential Stage
    • The Public Interest Stage.

The evidential test:

  • The evidential test:
    • Is there is enough evidence to provide a “realistic prospect of conviction” ?
    • Can the evidence can be used and is it reliable?

The public interest test:

  • The public interest test:
    • What factors are there for prosecution?
    • What factors are there against prosecution?

There is a third test: the threshold test.

  • There is a third test: the threshold test.
  • The threshold test is used to decide whether a suspect can be charged even though there is not yet enough evidence to apply the Full Code Test.

The Threshold Test is only applied to those cases in which it would not be appropriate to release a suspect on bail because the suspect represents a serious bail risk and there is reasonable suspicion that the offender has committed an offence and it is in the public interest to charge that suspect.

  • The Threshold Test is only applied to those cases in which it would not be appropriate to release a suspect on bail because the suspect represents a serious bail risk and there is reasonable suspicion that the offender has committed an offence and it is in the public interest to charge that suspect.

The defence has the right to challenge a case for lack of evidence or an unjustified refusal of bail. Until the case has met the Full Code Test there is an increasing likelihood that the defence will succeed in stopping a prosecution at an early stage in the court process. This in effect limits the use of the Threshold Test.

  • The defence has the right to challenge a case for lack of evidence or an unjustified refusal of bail. Until the case has met the Full Code Test there is an increasing likelihood that the defence will succeed in stopping a prosecution at an early stage in the court process. This in effect limits the use of the Threshold Test.

Organisation

  • Operates under a structure of 42 geographical areas in England and Wales corresponding with the boundaries of the police forces of England and Wales.
  • The CPS London Area covers the operational boundaries of both City of London and Metropolitan Police Forces

Each area is headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP).

  • Each area is headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP).
  • Each area also has an Area Business Manager who has responsibility for the administration of the area.

Exercise

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of having an independent prosecution body such as the Crown Prosecution Service?

Essay Question

  • (a) Outline how the Crown Prosecution Service makes the decision to prosecute. (12)
  • (b) Evaluate the role of the Crown Prosecution Service in the criminal justice process. (13)
  • Total 25 marks


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