Service Prosecuting Authority

The Service Prosecuting Authority is the principal prosecuting authority within the Service Justice System and is responsible for the prosecution of all service offences before the Service Courts.

Mission statement

The Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) provides for the independent, fair and efficient consideration of criminal cases and offences contrary to service discipline within its jurisdiction. It will initiate prosecutions where justified, conducting just and thorough proceedings in the Service courts. It will liaise effectively with the police, and deal with prosecution witnesses and victims of crime with care and sensitivity. Although independent from the Service chain of command, the SPA fulfils its functions in support of operational effectiveness of the Armed Forces throughout the world.

What we do

The SPA is the principal prosecuting authority within the Service Justice System and is responsible for the consideration and, where necessary, prosecution of service offences before the Service Courts, which include, the Court Martial, the Court Martial Appeal Court, the Service Civilian Court and the Summary Appeal Court.

In respect of cases referred to it by either a Service Police Force or a Commanding Officer, the SPA:

  • decides whether the case should be prosecuted
  • decides where the case should be prosecuted
  • determines the appropriate charges to bring
  • prepares cases and presents them in the Service courts – using either employed advocates or members of the Bar.

In addition the SPA works closely with and provides advice to the Service Police Forces in respect to the investigation of offences.

How we do it

The SPA is independent of both the Ministry of Defence and the military chain of command in respect of its prosecutorial functions.

The SPA acts under the general superintendence of the Attorney General.

The SPA acts in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

The SPA is committed to delivering a high quality prosecution service, as expressed in our Casework Quality Standards (PDF, 131 KB, 4 pages).

Who we are

The SPA was established in 2009 when the three single service prosecuting authorities were amalgamated.

The Director of Service Prosecutions (DSP) is the head of the SPA and operates under the general superintendence of the Attorney General.

The current Director of Service Prosecutions is Mr Jonathan Rees KC: Mr Jonathan Rees KC biography (ODT, 5.14 KB)

The principal statute governing the Service Justice System is the Armed Forces Act 2006.

The SPA has an establishment of 60 members of staff, 26 of whom are prosecutors (21 military prosecutors, 5 civilian prosecutors).

The principles we follow:

The SPA will act with fairness and impartiality seeking always to achieve the outcome that best meets the interests of justice and operational effectiveness.

In particular Service prosecutors will act in accordance with the following:

Prosecutors and support staff will act in accordance with the following (as appropriate):

Information access requests

While the Service Prosecuting Authority is independent of the service chain of command (its prosecution function), the Ministry of Defence acts as data controller in respect of the Freedom of Information Act 2001 (FOIA) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA).

Requests for recorded information made under the FOIA should be sent to in the first instance.

Requests for Personal Information made under the DPA should be sent to

Guidance for making requests under the FOIA and DPA can be found here: How to make a freedom of information (FOI) request.

Further information

Publication scheme

Protocol Between Law Officers and the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA)

The protocol defining the relationship between Law Officers and the Service Prosecuting Authority has now been agreed and published. This is the first time that a formal protocol has been put in place between Law Officers and SPA.

Read more about the protocol between the Law Officers and the Service Prosecuting Authority.

Joint Prosecution Protocol (England and Wales)

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) have published the CPS-SPA protocol regarding the exercise of criminal jurisdiction in England and Wales (the protocol): Joint Prosecution Protocol.

The protocol applies in respect of conduct of a person subject to Service law, which occurs when that person is in England or Wales. In these circumstances, both the CPS and the SPA have jurisdiction to bring criminal proceedings, and it is necessary to determine the appropriate jurisdiction, the civilian courts or courts martial. The protocol identifies principles and factors which are to be considered when a decision is made as to the appropriate jurisdiction in which to bring proceedings.

The protocol is published pursuant to section 320A of the Armed Forces Act 2006, which places an obligation on the Director of Service Prosecutions and the Director of Public Prosecutions to agree a protocol.

We have also published a summary of responses to the public consultation that was held earlier this year. This sets out in detail the further changes that we have made to the protocol: Joint Prosecution Protocol Consultation.

We would like to thank all of those who responded to the consultation. We are content that the responses have led us to make changes that have resulted in a clearer, improved protocol.

CPS and SPA joint press release

Contact details

Service Prosecuting Authority
RAF Northolt
West End Road


Updates to this page

Published 12 December 2012
Last updated 19 July 2024 + show all updates
  1. Added 'Information access requests' section.

  2. Added a link to the protocol Between Law Officers and the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA).

  3. Updated section 'Joint Prosecution Protocol (England and Wales)'.

  4. Updated Casework Quality Standards, Guidance on handling complaints and Victim's right to review - policy documents.

  5. Updated: Victim's right to review - policy.

  6. Webpage updated with most recent information.

  7. Added: link to Joint Prosecution Protocol Consultation.

  8. Updated Service Prosecuting Authority contact email.

  9. Updated Guidance on handling complaints and Victims right to review documents.

  10. Updated Casework Quality Standards document.

  11. Updated: Guidance on handling complaints.

  12. Added a contact email address.

  13. Updated all content on the Service Prosecuting Authority page for 2020.

  14. First published.

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