The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is responsible for reviewing and prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. CPS lawyers also advise the police on matters relating to criminal cases and whether there is sufficient evidence to prove each case, and whether that prosecution is in the public interest. The CPS has headquarters in London and York and operates under a structure of 42 Areas in England and Wales, to correspond with the different police forces.
There are a number of posts within the CPS, but the usual entry point for a solicitor or barrister is as a Crown Prosecutor. Crown Prosecutors initially work on more straightforward cases but will progress to deal with a more complex caseload. They will prepare prosecutions within the Magistrates Court and undertake advocacy, including trials, remand courts, sentencing and committal hearings. Senior Crown Prosecutors will advise, present and review cases within the Magistrates Court. Senior Crown Prosecutors also have ample opportunity to specialise, for instance in youth courts or in Anti Social Behaviour Orders, and have conduct over more serious offences including murder and rape.
The position of Crown Advocate is a relatively new post within the CPS that entails predominantly Crown Court work. Crown Advocates are required to have a high expertise in the most serious areas of Criminal Law, including violence, gun crime and Complex and Serious cases. A Crown Advocate can progress to the position of Senior Crown Advocate. Senior Crown Advocates deal with the more serious and complex cases within the Crown Court including (the) Counter Terrorism (Division) and prevention of Organised Crime.
There are also management opportunities within the CPS, which generally will not involve Court work.
CPS life guarantees a wide and varied selection of work. Especially since it absorbed the Revenue & Customs Prosecutions Office, which previously had jurisdiction over matters such as drug, alcohol and tobacco smuggling, illegal arms trafficking, sanctions violations, tax fraud, money laundering and export control. No two days are the same on the basis of the diversity of cases and the different courts.
Flexible hours are on offer, but office-based work has the core hours of 10am and 4pm and a general requirement for a 37 hour week. Court preparation will often be outside of office hours however, and short notice, since a CPS lawyer may be allocated a case day before the hearing.
Employees are also entitled to join the Civil Service Pension Scheme and have the benefit of Civil Service employment terms.