‘Complex Casework’ – Inside the Crown Prosecution Service

'Complex Casework' - Inside the Crown Prosecution ServiceMore prosecution casework is carried out locally by prosecutors based in regional hubs. For some cases, however, the position is entirely different, and a specialised team of prosecutors takes over.

Specialist Casework – Criteria

The Crown Prosecution Service produces national guidance that specifies the criteria for casework that must be referred to Complex Casework Units (CCU’s). This guidance was last reviewed in February 2020 and confirms that the casework to be dealt with by CCU’s will be “mainly from Level 1 and Level 2 crimes with broadly defined characteristics of complexity that distinguish them from non-complex crime”.

The guidance provides an extensive list of the characteristics generally associated with that crime. It also provides a general discretion for Chief Crown Prosecutors to direct cases that do not meet those characteristics to the CCU.

The characteristics include large scale human trafficking; serious drug related offences involving substantial importation, manufacture or supply, particularly with an international dimension; major targeted local criminals in organised or international crime; and high-profile multi-victim and/or multi-defendant murders.

The criteria are not solely based on the nature of the offence being alleged; that would be too simplistic an approach. Instead, they are based on the type of characteristics referred to above. This inevitably leads, in some instances, to scope for interpretation of the criteria as to the nature of casework to be prosecuted by CCU’s and allows for some flexibility of approach.

In addition, cases may be referred to the CCU by agreement or at the direction of the Chief Crown Prosecutor. These cases are likely to feature one or more of the following:

  • unusual legal or evidential issues
  • complex expert evidence or multiple experts
  • extensive confiscation issues
  • liaison with foreign law enforcement agencies
  • protected witnesses
  • multi-agency involvement
  • extensive undercover police operations/multiple use of sources
  • where the skills of a CCU prosecutor are deemed necessary.

In addition to the CCU’s, there are also divisions dealing with fraud, terrorism and ‘special crime’ (such as election offences and prosecutions following disasters).

Our considerable expertise in complex crime means that we, as a firm, are well versed in dealing with complex litigation and have an excellent understanding of how these specialist prosecution departments operate.

How can we help?

We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please call Principal Solicitor Martin Smith on 0121 726 9116 or contact us and one of our specialist lawyers will call you back.