Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Crown Prosecution Service

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Crown Prosecution Service

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Due to my previous experience in public sector roles (local authority and police)’, ‘I was more interested in crime than any other area of law’, ‘no billing’, ‘I liked the core values’, ‘the CPS had the highest level of work satisfaction in comparison to other firms. I am able to see how the work directly impacts individual members of society’, ‘criminal law is very interesting’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The people – colleagues and management are supportive and friendly’, ‘benefits such as pensions etc.’, ‘inclusion and diversity which make for a conducive work environment’, ‘the advocacy opportunities’, ‘if there is something I want to experience, I am authorised to do so and supervisors are encouraging of this’, ‘the people – they are absolute professionals’, ‘no case is a dull one’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Limited guidance and structure for trainees. Most work is organised ourselves’, ‘we get paid less than contemporaries at private firms’, ‘technology could be improved’, ‘the [Nottingham] office could do with a refresh!’, ‘covering a lot of mileage because courts are far apart in some areas’, ‘things can be a bit slow moving, e.g. booking training courses because there are so many people you have to go through’

Best moment? ‘My skeleton argument being used in court’, ‘being responsible for charging decisions in the homicide unit for some cases’, ‘court shadowing and the opportunity to travel to various locations’, ‘working on murder cases’, ‘observing various courts, including youth court, magistrates trials and the Crown Court’, ‘assisting on serious sexual offence cases’

Worst moment? ‘Being seconded to do contract law in a different firm’, ‘feeling inadequate in training sessions with experienced prosecutors’, ‘having to complete all the online learning’, ‘meetings with the families of the deceased are always horrible and difficult, but they are very valuable for both the family and prosecutor’, ‘feeling reluctant to pester people’

The Lex 100 verdict on Crown Prosecution Service

The firm: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecutes criminal cases that have been investigated by the police and other investigative organisations in England and Wales. The CPS is independent, and we make our decisions independently of the police and government.

Our duty is to make sure that the right person is prosecuted for the right offence, and to bring offenders to justice wherever possible.

The CPS:

  • decides which cases should be prosecuted;
  • determines the appropriate charges in more serious or complex cases, and advises the police during the early stages of investigations;
  • prepares cases and presents them at court; and
  • provides information, assistance and support to victims and prosecution witnesses.

Prosecutors must be fair, objective and independent. When deciding whether to prosecute a criminal case, our lawyers must follow the Code for Crown Prosecutors. This means that to charge someone with a criminal offence, prosecutors must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction, and that prosecuting is in the public interest.

The CPS works closely with the police, courts, the Judiciary and other partners to deliver justice.

The verdict

For candidates who have ‘an interest in criminal law from the outset’, the Crown Prosecution Service is an ‘obvious choice’. Respondents cited various iterations of a ‘passion for criminal law’, a wish to ‘deliver justice’ and the ‘opportunity to gain advocacy experience’ as motivators for joining the organisation. Training can be a little ‘less structured and more ad-hoc’ than at some traditional law firms: ‘there aren’t seats as such and what you end up doing depends on what you and your supervisor decide’. Trainees therefore ‘need to be proactive in their approach’ in order to get the most out of the experience. The upside is a high degree of flexibility where recruits are able to ‘seek out opportunities in areas of interest’. Working arrangements are very flexible too: home working is generally welcomed and flexi-time is available, ensuring that trainees can ‘experience all elements of the service whilst having an unrivalled work/life balance’. The CPS is a Lex 100 Winner in this category and, thanks to a ‘guaranteed job post training contract’, a Lex 100 Winner gong for confidence of being kept on has also been awarded. As for colleagues, ‘no one is unapproachable; everyone is willing to help you out and show you how to do things’ and the culture is inclusive. It was noted, however, that ‘there isn’t as much funding for things like social events or certain equipment’. Work highlights such as ‘assisting in high-profile murder, manslaughter and historic sex abuse trials’ and secondments to the Attorney General’s office and the Coroner’s Court were particularly fascinating. For ‘excellent training which focuses on learning and is not just a tick-box exercise’, consider the CPS.

Why the CPS? If you are interested in joining the CPS, there's just one question we ask you to consider. Can you deliver justice?

, Crown Prosecution Service

At the CPS we are responsible for delivering justice through the independent and effective prosecution of crime. As the principal prosecuting authority across England and Wales the nature and diversity of cases we advise on and prosecute means our work is often challenging and complex.

Our service employs almost 6,000 individuals who think objectively, act professionally, show the utmost respect for others and continually strive for excellence.

We offer you the opportunity to have a very real impact on society, the freedom to use your judgement and the chance to experience challenging and varied work.

All in a supportive environment that is invested in seeing you make the most of your life inside work and out.

The CPS is committed to attracting and retaining people from across the full range of backgrounds and enabling flexible ways of working. We offer maternity, adoption or shared parental leave of up to 26 weeks’ full pay followed by 13 weeks of statutory pay and a further 13 weeks unpaid, and paternity leave of two weeks’ full pay.

Recognition for the CPS

BiTC: this accolade recognises the CPS as an organisation where people, no matter their ethnicity and background, have opportunities to develop and build careers.

Working Families: the CPS has again been recognised as one of the top ten most family friendly workplaces in Britain by Working Families, the UK’s work-life balance charity.

Disability Confident Leader: this recognises the CPS as an organisation which plays a leading role in shifting attitudes towards disability and where disabled people and those with long-term health conditions have opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations.

a:gender: a:gender is the organisation that supports all trans and intersex staff across government. Each year they carry out a ‘health check’ across departments to determine how staff are supported through policies and culture. In 2017 the CPS was awarded first place in the a:gender health check.

Investors in People: the CPS is accredited by Investors in People (IiP) at silver standard. This standard recognises excellence in people management and identifies CPS as an employer who leads, supports and manages people well for sustainable results. The CPS was also named by IiP in the four top Silver Standard employers (5,000+ employees) for 2017.

The Good Recruitment Charter: the charter defines good recruitment practice through nine key principles that the organisations who sign up to the charter will aspire to. Good recruitment helps organisations to acquire the talent they need in order to perform and grow. It provides great candidate experiences and helps ensure that the UK workforce is used to its full potential.

Vercida: the CPS has been listed as a Top 10 BAME-Inclusive Employer for 2018 by Vercida, a careers site dedicated to showcasing employers that place values, equality, respect, culture, inclusion, diversity, accessibility at the core of its employment. The annual awards recognise excellence and commitment to equality and diversity in the workplace, with the CPS achieving a top ten ranking alongside high-profile employers from both the public and private sectors.

About the firm

Director of Public Prosecutions: Max Hill QC

Other offices: East Midlands, East of England, London, Mersey-Cheshire, North East, North West, South East, South West, Thames and Chiltern, Wales, Wessex, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside

Who we are: The Crown Prosecution Service is the government department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales.

What we do: The Crown Prosecution Service are the principal prosecuting authority in England and Wales.

What we’re looking for: Good oral advocacy skills and can present an argument in an ordered and structured manner. Good analytical and writing skills are also essential to the role.

What you’ll do: Trainees will work with their allocated supervisor to gain experience of all areas of CPS work. Trainees also have access to secondments in other areas of law during their time training with the CPS.

Perks: 25 days’ leave, rising to 30 days after five years’ service; eight bank holidays plus one privilege day; maternity, paternity and adoption leave; flexible working; interest-free season ticket loan; Cycle2work Scheme; employee savings including ticket discounts, shopping voucher discounts, holiday offers; Civil Service Pension.