Crown prosecution service

An independent body responsible for the review of cases and the conduct of prosecutions.

Prior to 1986 the prosecution of criminal cases was conducted by the police in the Magistrates' Courts.  These would usually be conducted by a senior uniformed police officer, probably a superintendent.  In numerous cases the prosecution witnesses themselves were police officers and this led to numbers of uniformed police officers being present and visible in and around the Magistrates Courts.  Sometimes the courts were actually referred to as ‘police’ courts which was completely untrue but potentially very damaging to the independence of the criminal justice system.

It was the Phillips Commission 1981 which came to the conclusion that an independent body responsible for the review of cases and the conduct of prosecutions was the way forward.  This led to the passing of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 and the setting up of the The Crown Prosecution Service which commenced its role in 1986.

The Crown Prosecution Service is headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who must be a qualified lawyer of at least 10 years standing.  The country is divided up into 42 areas each of which is headed up by a Chief Crown Prosecutor.  Each area is further divided up into branches supervised by Branch Crown Prosecutors and each branch has it own team of lawyers and support staff.  

The work of the CPS extends to all aspects of prosecution work not just to the conduct of individual cases which go to court. 

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