Key organisations

The criminal justice system in England and Wales is large and complicated. It has lots of separate agencies doing different jobs. The information below is a brief overview of some of the key agencies involved and what they do.

For more information create a free account on My Support Space – Victim Support’s online resource containing interactive guides (including journey to justice) to help you move forward after crime.

The UK police force is responsible for building safer and more secure communities. There are 43 police forces in England and Wales employing more than 200,000 people, including over 125,000 police officers, 60,000 police staff and 12,000 community support officers.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is the independent authority responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. Its work includes:

  • advising the police on cases for possible prosecution
  • reviewing cases submitted by the police
  • determining the charges in more serious and complex cases
  • preparing cases for court
  • presenting cases at court
  • providing information, assistance and support to victims and prosecution witnesses.
The Home Office is the lead government department for immigration and passports, drugs policy, counter-terrorism, police, and fire and rescue policy
The Ministry of Justice is one of the largest government departments and is responsible for criminal, civil and family justice, democracy, rights and the constitution. It employs around 76,000 people and has a budget of £7.2 billion. Every year around nine million people use its services across the UK, which include 500 courts and tribunals and 133 prisons in England and Wales.
The CICA is an executive agency, sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, that runs the criminal injuries compensation scheme in England, Scotland and Wales. The Authority is based in Glasgow and has over 300 staff.
The National Probation Service is responsible for overseeing offenders released from prison on licence and those on community sentences. Probation also prepares pre-sentence reports for judges and magistrates in the courts to help them choose the most appropriate sentence and works in prisons to prepare offenders for release. Probation also runs the Victim Contact Scheme,  which works with victims of crime in cases where the offender has been sentenced to custody for 12 months or more for a sexual or violent offence.
A police Family Liaison Officer is a specially trained officer assigned to serious crimes such as homicide. They act as a key point of contact between affected families and the police. They provide information and support, but their main role is to help with the investigation of the crime.

This is a phrase sometimes used within Victim Support to describe a local ‘hub’ where one of our victim care teams is based. The unit takes referrals of victims from the police, as well as any enquiries directly from victims, and it contacts people to find out how Victim Support can help. The unit then makes sure that support is given and follows up with each victim to make sure their needs have been met after a crime.

Witness Care Units are government-run offices that manage the care of victims and prosecution witnesses, from the time when someone is charged with a crime right through to the end of the case. They are staffed jointly by police and people from the Crown Prosecution Service. They help to steer people through the criminal justice process, and co-ordinate support and other services.
Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service is an agency of the Ministry of Justice responsible for the administration of criminal, civil and family courts and tribunals in England and Wales.
Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service is an executive agency, sponsored by the Ministry of Justice. It is made up of Her Majesty’s Prison Service, the National Probation Service and a headquarters focused on creating tools and learning. The organisations work together to help protect the public and reduce reoffending.
Victim Support is the independent charity for people affected by crime in England and Wales. We’re not part of the police, courts or any other criminal justice agency, but work alongside them to support victims of crime. We have around 1,100 staff and 1,600 specially trained volunteers dedicated to providing support and campaigning for improvements to benefit them.

If you’ve been affected by crime and would like our support, find out how to get in touch with us.

The witness service provides free practical and emotional support before, during and after a trial. The service operates in every criminal court in England and Wales and is run by Citizens Advice.
Through our Homicide Service, Victim Support provides intensive support for people bereaved by murder or manslaughter. Our teams operate across England and Wales and work very closely with police Family Liaison Officers. They provide information, advice and emotional support, commission therapeutic services, and help victims to access legal and financial services.