Crown Prosecution Service administrators/caseworkers work for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in England and Wales. They play a vital administrative role in helping crown prosecutors to prosecute people who are suspected of having committed a criminal offence. Criminal offences can vary widely, from a traffic offence to murder.
The police investigate crimes and send a report to the CPS. A CPS legal team of administrators, caseworkers and crown prosecutors then reviews the report and decides if there is a sufficient case for prosecution. The CPS handles over 1.2 million court hearings every year in the magistrates' courts and in the Crown Court.
CPS caseworkers are often the first point of contact. They document the information, making sure all the supporting facts and evidence are available. They maintain accurate and up-to-date records and manage the workloads.
There are different levels of caseworker with varying responsibilities. An A1/A2 caseworker's duties include:
- Registering files accurately and on time
- Copying files for court hearings
- Making sure files are in order
- Attending some court hearings
Some caseworkers have greater responsibility for the management and processing of cases and may divide their time between the CPS office and court. B1 caseworkers support crown prosecutors by:
CPS caseworkers normally work 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday. The CPS offers a range of working patterns including part-time and flexible hours. The work can be pressurised as deadlines need to be met, and they may have to prepare a case or evaluate evidence at short notice.
They are mainly office based, but may travel to police stations or Crown Courts within the region. Senior caseworkers from special casework units based in London may travel to work anywhere in England and Wales.
A1 casework assistants' salaries start at around £13,026.
Salaries for A2 casework support officers are around £15,012 and the typical salary of a B2 caseworker is around £18,826.
The CPS is the largest law firm in the UK, employing over 8,500 staff dealing exclusively with criminal cases.
Caseworkers work in one of 42 CPS areas in England and Wales, as well headquarters in London, Birmingham and York. CPS centres vary in size, and some are co-located at police stations. Each centre is linked to one or more designated police force.
Caseworker vacancies may be advertised on the CPS website (at www.cps.gov.uk).
While there are no set entry requirements, most applicants have at least four GCSE's grades (A*-C), including English and maths. Many entrants also have A levels and/or degrees.
All legal training is provided after appointment. Keyboard skills are essential, and it may be helpful to have experience of working in an office or in a legal environment.
All applicants to the CPS will have to complete a character enquiry form, a health declaration form, and a National Identification Service (NIS) vetting form.
New caseworkers follow an induction programme. They are then teamed up with a senior caseworker and trained on the job. The following distance-learning courses, which are validated by the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX), are available:
The Introduction to Criminal Prosecution is aimed at Level A caseworkers. This course provides an introduction to the English legal system and the principles of criminal law, CPS policies and procedures, and the role and responsibilities of CPS Level A employees. The course is set at approximately GCSE level and lasts six months. Students who pass all three assignments are awarded the Certificate.
The Certificate in Criminal Prosecution is a compulsory course for Level B caseworkers, but is also available for Level A caseworkers looking to progress. The course provides a good working knowledge of criminal law and procedure. The course is set at roughly A level standard and lasts one year. Students who pass all seven assignments are awarded the Certificate.
The CPS encourages continuing professional development (CPD). The nature of the job and changes to legislation mean that training is always ongoing, to make sure caseworkers' skills are kept up to date. Training is delivered in-house, supported on occasion by external courses.
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A CPS caseworker should:
Experienced caseworkers or applicants with a suitable legal qualification may apply to become an associate prosecutor. Applicants must pass a selection process and complete a specialised training course. The course covers legal principles and advocacy, and equips applicants with the skills to review and present a limited range of straightforward cases in magistrates' courts.
Administrators or caseworkers may be able to study towards legal qualifications whilst working, via the Law Scholarship Scheme. This scheme offers a clear development and qualification route from administrator/caseworker through to crown prosecutor by way of a bursary. Employees who have successfully passed probation (except for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and the Bar Vocational Course (BVC) where 12 months service is required) can apply for sponsorship towards any of the following qualifications, based on their prior experience and existing level of qualification:
Sponsorship is guaranteed for the duration of the course. Employees can apply to study part time at a college or through distance learning. The funding pays for full course fees, exam fees, and up to £100 for textbooks.
Those who complete the LPC or BVC can then apply to the CPS Legal Trainee Scheme, to become either trainee solicitors or pupil barristers. On successful completion of their training contract or pupillage they qualify as solicitors or barristers and can then apply for posts as crown prosecutors.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS),
Head Office, 50 Ludgate Hill, London EC4M 7EX
Tel: 020 7796 8000
National recruitment number: 0151 239 6388
Institute of Legal Executives,
Kempston Manor, Kempston, Bedford MK42 7AB
Tel: 01234 841000
Skills for Justice,
9-11 Riverside Court, Don Road, Sheffield S9 2TJ
Tel: 0114 261 1499
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.