The Criminal Justice System
The Crime Prosecution Service works with Police forces, the Attorney General’s Office, the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and other agencies to form the Criminal Justice System.
Thames Valley Police is the police force who cover Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire, they are responsible for investigating crimes, collecting evidence and arresting/detaining suspected offenders across the county. Once a suspect is held, in minor cases the police decide whether to caution them, take no further action, issue a fixed penalty notice or refer to the CPS. In more serious cases, the police will send the files to the CPS to decide whether to prosecute.
Thames Valley Police work with partners to make communities safe places in which to live and work. Most areas of Thames Valley now have a neighbourhood policing team providing a local service, details can be found on their website (link below).
One of the Force's main priorities is to reduce crime, and it seeks to do this by investigating complaints of crime, gathering evidence, arresting people who offend and working with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to bring them before the courts.
- In an emergency: 999
- For all other calls: 101 (calls cost 15p per call)
- Website: Thames Valley Police
- Twitter: @ThamesVP
The Crown Prosecution Service advises the Police on cases for possible prosecution and reviews cases submitted by the Police for prosecution. When the decision is to prosecute, the CPS determines the appropriate charges and prepares and presents cases at Court.
- Twitter: @cpsuk
- Website Crown Prosecution Service
The fifteen Magistrates' Courts deal with more than 95% of criminal work in Thames Valley. Most cases are heard by Lay Magistrates, but many areas have District Judges as well. Lay Magistrates are members of the community and rarely are lawyers. They receive rigorous training to undertake their duties. Cases dealt with by Magistrates range from minor traffic to serious crime.
More serious crime cases -about 5% of all cases -are dealt with at Crown Court. Cases are heard by a Judge and jury at three Crown Court centres -Reading, Oxford and Aylesbury. Traditionally, the Judge and senior legal representatives for the defence and prosecution wear robes and wigs. When Magistrates feel that a convicted defendant should be given a sentence which is beyond their power to impose, the defendant may be sent to Crown Court for sentence.
Website HM Courts and Tribunals Service
The YOTs bring together a single team of police officers, social workers, probation officers and professional staff from education and health services. This team works with young people who offend and their families to tackle the complex issues linked with youth crime. The team also provides support and guidance for parents of young people who offend. Young who offend are placed under supervision and helped to receive full-time education or treatment for health problems. Victims of youth crime are contacted and are offered information, support and, if appropriate a chance to meet the young person who offended to try and repair the harm done.
Responsible for supervising approximately 4,000 service users, Thames Valley CRC anchors every action in their vision of helping people turn their lives around. Thames Valley CRC covers Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes and works across 7 main offices
By addressing different aspects of their service users’ situations, probation staff help them to break the cycle of reoffending, make changes for the better, and prevent re-offending.
There are 4 prisons in Thames Valley, Bullingdon, Woodhill, Grendon, Springhill, and 3 Young Offender Institutions at Aylesbury, Huntercombe and Reading. The majority of prisoners being held on remand (awaiting a court case) or newly sentenced will begin their time at Bullingdon or Woodhill. The Prison Service works to help prisoners tackle the reasons for their offending and many prisoners engage in challenging programmes. The Prison Service employs 2,000 staff in prisons in the Thames Valley Area.