Impact through collaboration - Crown Prosecution Service chief Max Hill reflects on a year of 'real progress' and difficult decisions

Director of public prosecutions for England and Wales says the CPS, through collaboration, has made real progress in improving how rape and sexual violence cases are handled
Crown Prosecution Service. Photo: Marc Zakian/Alamy

By Civil Service World

23 Dec 2022


What has been your highlight of the last 12 months?  

When you asked me last year about the most significant challenges we faced in 2021, I said it was how we tackle rape and sexual violence against women and girls. A year on, this remains the most pressing issue, not just for the CPS but for the whole criminal justice system. However, a key highlight for me has been seeing the real progress we have made, alongside the police, in improving how these cases are handled - from when they are first reported to the police right through to when they are prosecuted in court. As a result of this joint effort, we are seeing real increases in the number of referrals to the CPS and charges we can authorise. Impactful collaborative work across the justice system takes significant effort and time, but this progress shows we are making an impact. I, along with all the dedicated Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) staff at the CPS, am deeply committed to building on this promising progress to continue driving real improvements for the victims of these awful crimes. 

What was your most difficult decision in 2022?   

Every day is different at the CPS, and I must make difficult decisions weekly, so I couldn’t single out any one decision. But I would highlight that the CPS is full of highly skilled and hard-working professionals that make difficult decisions every day on the most prominent criminal cases in the country. I am consistently impressed by the dedication and care CPS staff across the country take in reaching these difficult decisions and the role this plays in securing justice for victims. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic was a once-in-a-lifetime event that posed significant and unique challenges for the criminal justice system, and we are still facing difficulties today” 


What is the biggest challenge facing your organisation in 2023, and how will you meet that challenge as an organisation?  

The Covid-19 pandemic was a once-in-a-lifetime event that posed significant and unique challenges for the criminal justice system, and we are still facing difficulties today. The surge in cases for the CPS was unprecedented, but two years later, the court backlogs continue to grow. Our priority for the year ahead is ensuring our operational recovery is successful and that our people are fully equipped to provide the best possible service to victims, witnesses, and the public. This must be a shared priority for all parts of the criminal justice system to make the necessary progress, and we must continue to work together. 

And personally, as a leader?  

The key to our operational recovery is our people, which is set out in our CPS 2025 Strategy, which was created for our people and by our people. One of its key aims is to ensure our people are supported to succeed in their work and that their well-being remains a priority. I take my responsibility in ensuring our people are looked after very seriously to ensure they are all in a great position to undertake this work to provide the high-quality service expected of the CPS. 

It's not only Santa who has to work at Christmas. What is your best, worst or weirdest experience of working in the festive season?   

Whilst defending a client at the Bar, I went to court very close to Christmas when our second child was a very small baby, and immediately after the hearing, my client gifted me a lovely set of new baby clothes. 

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