Behind the scenes with crown prosecutors in Merseyside

Nicky Clifford
Image caption Nicky Clifford says she has questions she wants answering over the death of her son Flynn

Cameras have been following prosecutors from the Crown Prosecution Service for the first time as they decide whether to bring criminal charges.

The work of the CPS is being examined in BBC Four series The Prosecutors: Real Crime and Punishment.

The cameras were allowed to follow the CPS in Merseyside and Cheshire as the north west's chief crown prosecutor spoke of "a lack of understanding".

In 2014, 651,352 cases were brought to court in England and Wales by the CPS.

Claire Lindley, chief crown prosecutor for the CPS in the north west, said she hoped the programme would show that "we are all human and the decisions we are making are impactful and do affect lives."

She said: "We prosecute about 30,000 cases per year and we are quite proud of the fact we have a conviction rate of over 80%.

"We do get some criticism in the press and it's a shame because I know how hard my staff work and how dedicated they are to making sure victims are at the heart of the work we do."

The prosecutors decide whether to charge, who to charge and what offences to charge them with - decisions that have an impact on victims' lives, their families and perpetrators.

'I want answers'

The programme looks at a case involving Nicky Clifford, whose son Flynn, 11, was killed by a driver in 2013.

Ms Clifford, from Sandbach in Cheshire, said: "The questions that I wanted answers to I couldn't be told because I am a witness and I have to go in court untarnished.

"That actually is quite isolating. For them, it's evidence - it's my life.

"I want to know what other people saw and I want answers to my questions and I don't want them a year-and-a-half down the line.

"When you are talking to people face-to-face, they can see your eyes and they can see what you are going through - that you are not just a name on the form or know it's not just a schoolboy.

"It's not just a schoolboy, it's my son."

In February 2015, the driver was convicted of causing death by driving carelessly after he was prosecuted by the CPS.

The documentary also tells the story of Rebecca Bamber, 43, who was stabbed to death in her garden in Widnes, Cheshire. Her former partner David Hoyle was charged with murder but pleaded not guilty, admitting manslaughter. He was convicted of murder in December 2014.

The Prosecutors: Real Crime and Punishment is on BBC Four at 21:00 GMT on Wednesday.

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