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Transforming the Crown Prosecution Service

Consulting Case Study


The situation

In June 2021, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was at a pivotal point. Following the findings from Crest’s Victims’ Strategic Needs Assessment, the organisation needed to better understand the needs of the victims and witnesses who it works with and where they are not fully met in CPS communications. This set out the need for fundamental change at the core of the CPS, rather than tinkering around the edges. Crest was subsequently commissioned by the CPS to support the development of a transformation programme to better meet victims’ needs.


Our response

To hear from those with a role in improving CPS communications, Crest engaged directly from the CPS, victims and witnesses, as well as partners from across the criminal justice system. This included support groups, police, commissioners, and the probation service. We ran national surveys, focus groups, and interviews to create a full picture of the current landscape. After analysing our findings, we made a series of recommendations calling for direct communication from the CPS and enhancing the service provided to victims with the greatest need.

This breadth of engagement meant that a range of experiences and crime types were represented in the research:

  • 55 survey responses from victims across England and Wales

  • 20 in-depth interviews with victims

  • 169 survey responses from specialised support service practitioners across England and Wales

  • 114 CPS staff attending focus group discussions

  • 95 survey responses from CPS staff across England and Wales

  • Engagement with 13 different statutory partners – including police Witness Care Units, Police and Crime Commissioners and the probation service

On our findings, Claire Waxman, London’s Independent Victims’ Commissioner, said:

“This work from Crest Advisory provides fantastic insight into the needs of victims and most crucially where these needs remain unmet by the CPS. Consistent, clear and trauma-informed communication with victims is a fundamental element of their justice journey, and the absence of this can push victims to withdraw from the process, particularly with cases taking such a long time to reach court. We know that victims do not all receive the justice outcome they want, but a greater driver of satisfaction is that they are treated with respect, receive timely and effective communications, and have their rights met. The CPS play a crucial role in a victim’s journey, and I am confident that if they implement the recommendations set out by Crest we will see a marked improvement in satisfaction and better engagement with the justice system."


Our impact

To deliver the improvements, the CPS has set out an action plan and time-frames.

Since October 2022, the CPS has been trialling a number of new approaches to communicating and engaging with victims – including victims of rape.

The organisation has delivered on a number of early priority actions, including:

  • A Victims’ Guide to the criminal justice process

  • Trialling new and improved letters to rape victims, prior to and at the point of charge

  • Holding stakeholder workshops to identify those victim cohorts who would benefit from an enhanced service

  • Engaging with operational partners to plan the redesign together


“Being a victim of crime can be one of the most challenging things a person will ever experience – we recognise how overwhelming the justice process can be, especially when already in a time of extraordinary stress.
“We do not underestimate the enormity of this experience and know the resilience many victims show as they navigate the complex route of their case.
“But many need better support and that is why we’re taking a comprehensive look at what we offer to make sure we are meeting those needs.
“We are making progress – but are focused on making sure victims get the consistent and compassionate service they deserve.”

Max Hill QC, Director of Public Prosecutions


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