The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) works closely with the Police to ensure that cases are thoroughly investigated before charges are brought. There has been an increase in the complexity of cases investigated by the police, with investigations often involving large amounts of electronic material (social media, emails, text messages, video and photographs) which needs to be reviewed by prosecutors before a charging decision can be made. This impacts on the average number of consultations and length of time taken for prosecutors to reach a charging decision.
The CPS does not maintain a record of the average number of days taken from offence through to a decision to charge. However, data is held on the average number of days from submission of a case by the police to the CPS to the date of the CPS decision to charge.
Data relating to to all cases in South Yorkshire, summary only cases in South Yorkshire, and indictable only cases in South Yorkshire is shown in Annex A.
The data in Annex A relating to summary only cases provides figures for only a minority of summary only cases. This is because the CPS is only responsible for charging a small minority of summary only matters, with the majority charged by the police. In 2017-18 the police charged 75% of all summary only matters with only 25% charged by CPS, while for indicatable only offences the CPS charged 95% of these cases.
There are a number of reasons for the steady increase in the average number of days and average number of consultations per case since 2010/11. Police are now more regularly encouraged to seek ‘early investigative advice’ to help determine what evidence is required for a charge. Early investigative advice helps to ensure that cases are thoroughly investigated and the evidence to be brought before the court is strong. As a result, the CPS is more often involved at an earlier stage in proceedings which impacts on the average number of consultations and overall timeliness.