Explain the Requirements of the CPS for Prosecuting Suspects

Explain the Requirements of the CPS for Prosecuting Suspects

Understanding the Role of the CPS

  • The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is the principal prosecution authority in England and Wales.
  • Established in 1986, it oversees all criminal prosecutions and determines whether cases brought by the police should proceed.
  • The CPS has the responsibility to review, provide legal advice to the police, and prosecute cases where necessary.
  • Its primary goal is to secure justice and ensure that guilty individuals are prosecuted and innocent ones are not.

The Decision to Prosecute

  • The CPS makes its decision to prosecute based on a two-stage test: the evidential stage and the public interest stage.
  • In the evidential stage, the CPS examines whether there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against each suspect on each charge.
  • This stage takes into account factors like the reliability and admissibility of that evidence.
  • If the case does not pass the evidential stage, it does not proceed, regardless of the seriousness or the circumstances of the case.
  • If the case meets the evidential standard, the CPS will consider whether a prosecution is in the public interest during the public interest stage.
  • A prosecution will usually take place unless the prosecutor determines that there are public interest factors that outweigh those in favour of prosecution.

Public Interest Stage

  • The CPS considers factors like the seriousness of the offence, the level of culpability of the suspect, the harm caused, and the public interest.
  • A prosecution is less likely if a suspect is not a danger to the public and the crime was an isolated incident with little or no impact on the community.
  • Other factors include whether prosecution is proportionate to the likely outcome and the impact on the victim or their family.

Conduct of Prosecutions

  • CPS prosecutors must keep every case under review and take into account any change in circumstances.
  • If new evidence or information comes to light, a review of the initial decision may be necessary.
  • The CPS has the power to stop a case if it no longer meets the test for prosecution.


  • The CPS has a responsibility to ensure all credible and reliable witnesses are called.
  • Witnesses’ courtroom expenses are paid by the CPS for attendance at court to give evidence.
  • Victim and witness care is an essential component of the CPS’s role, and co-operation from these individuals is key to the CPS’s success.

Remember, the CPS operates independent of the police and the judiciary. The decisions it makes are based on whether there is enough evidence and if it is in the public interest to proceed with a case.