What we do
The Crown Prosecution Service is the Government Department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police and other investigating bodies in England and Wales.
As the principal prosecuting authority in England and Wales, they 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.
Their mission is to deliver justice through the independent and effective prosecution of crime, fostering a culture of excellence by supporting and inspiring each other to be the best they can.
They will be independent and fair
They will prosecute independently, without bias and will seek to deliver justice in every case.
They will be honest and open
They will explain their decisions, set clear standards about the service the public can expect and be honest if they make a mistake.
They will treat everyone with respect
They will respect each other, their colleagues and the public they serve, recognising that there are people behind every case.
They will behave professionally and strive for excellence
They will work as one team, always seeking new and better ways to deliver the best possible service for the public. They will be efficient and responsible with tax-payers’ money.
From my own experience of the CPS, the following is more accurate of what the CPS delivers for the taxpayer.
Rumpole Jnr – The Clown Prosecution Service
An insider’s viewpoint!
Unlike barristers who have a mixed practice of both prosecution and defence work, solicitors usually choose whether to work in a solicitor’s firm and defend, or for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and prosecute.
While at university, I went on work experience to the CPS and must admit that I did apply for a training contract there. Even though it was a number of years ago, I still recall an answer to one of the questions on the application form, “What do you think is the role of the CPS?” Naively, I wrote that its role is to prosecute the guilty, to get justice for the victim and, above all, to find the truth. Now that I’m privy to the workings of the criminal law, I can’t imagine how ridiculous those statements seemed. No wonder I didn’t get a contract.
As you can tell, I am certainly no fan, but the CPS does not stand for those values. I’m not saying it because I am a criminal defence lawyer and they are the opponents. I don’t say it because they are out to get my clients. I say it because they are probably the most incompetent organisation in Britain.
Although we criminal defence lawyers enjoy getting a client found not guilty after a trial, the amount of cases we get dropped because of the incompetence of the prosecution is unbelievable. They are late serving evidence and applications, and do not follow court directions or orders. Many cases should never come to court but do and are eventually dropped because there is no evidence. Many of the paralegals are not legally trained and are not graduates, and the lawyers themselves are simply not good enough. Some of the lawyers do not even like going to court and would rather stay in the office. The prosecution and police have far more resources and capabilities than the defence, so to that extent, it is not a level playing field. But the defence has one advantage; we are better lawyers than the prosecution will ever be.
Truth in the criminal justice system is a dirty word. It’s a myth that the prosecution searches it out. It’s the same with the courts because as far as the judiciary are concerned, they only want guilty pleas so the court can run smoothly and efficiently.
The CPS is only interested that every case they bring to court results in a conviction, whether or not the person is in fact guilty. There are no mitigating features, defences or, heaven forbid, instances of common sense from the prosecution – everyone is guilty in their eyes. You simply cannot reason with them. So whatever they may say; they do not search for the truth. And because of their incompetence, they certainly don’t get justice for the victim. They are both afterthoughts.
As for criminal defence lawyers, our job description is not to find the truth or to seek out justice. It has never been and it never will be. Our duty is to get the best result for the client, whether they have pleaded guilty or not guilty, and to not to mislead the court. As law students and LPC graduates, you may think that is hard to believe and somewhat cynical. But that’s the reality of it; that is the truth.
But it suits me just fine. If the CPS can’t do its job properly, then it means that we will keep getting the results for our clients. Whether it’s not guilty, case dropped or case discontinued, they are all still one thing. They are all good results.