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CPS

“The public’s right to live in safety and to be protected from criminal conduct lies at the heart of the criminal justice system. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO) protect the public by prosecuting firmly and fairly, and by doing so in an open, transparent and independent way. Our duty is to serve our communities and to do justice in every case.”

So said the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, QC, when last week he published his plan for taking forward the public prosecution service. He said that for too long the CPS had been part of a criminal justice system. Criminal justice should not be a system, it should be a service, and developing criminal justice from a system to a service is now a priority. He identified the key to a dynamic and responsive public prosecution service as Core Quality Standards which set out clearly what is expected. They will lay down the minimum in terms of quality and delivery that the public are entitled to expect from those who prosecute on their behalf. The standards will cover every major aspect of CPS work, from protecting the public to advising the investigator, through to defining the standards of service in respect of every aspect of the prosecutor’s role in court, and supporting victims and witnesses in dealing with complaints.

The RCPO and the CPS are to merge and it is claimed that this will provide for a more flexible organisation, better placed to deal with specialist, organised, crime. At the same time a core commitment identified is to the communities served. Prosecutors are to be community prosecutors, so that they know the types of crime that cause most local concern and are able to take the public’s views into account in their decisions and in the information they place before the courts. The DPP said that criminal justice is not delivered as effectively and efficiently as it should be. “It is high time for the electronic case file and electronic case management systems to become the main currency in the criminal justice service.” Of the 104,000 cases placed before the Crown Court, 73% result in the defendant pleading guilty without the need for a trial. Given the extent to which the Crown Court is predominantly a sentencing court, the DPP said there should be a fresh look at how best to conduct business there. “Guilty pleas need to be identified earlier, so that valuable time and resources can be concentrated on those cases which are actually going to result in a trial.”

The Attorney General has created a Strategic Board to review and improve the delivery of public prosecution, fraud and legal services for which she is responsible. An outcome of that Board’s work has been the creation of an agreed protocol that sets out how the Attorney General and the Directors of the prosecution services exercise their functions in relation to each other. It claims to confirm the independence of the prosecution services in reaching prosecution decisions – pace BAE Systems – and sets out the circumstances when the Attorney General will be consulted by the prosecuting departments in order to ensure Parliamentary accountability.

The DPP concludes that “a criminal justice service underpinned by the rule of law and respect for human rights is at the heart of modern democracy…Fair, fearless and effective; open, honest and transparent; protective, supportive and independent: these are the qualities that the public has a right to expect of its public prosecution service. We are determined to meet those expectations.”

The full text of the plan can be found at:-

www.cps.gov.uk/news/articles/
and you are invited to send any comments to GeneralFeedback@cps.gsi.gov.uk

This post was written by:

- who has written 462 posts on Upper Case – The Anya Legal Journal.

Mike Gribbin is a retired Civil Servant with wide experience, including the drafting and implementation of Parliamentary legislation and regulations. He is the editor of “Criminal Offences Handbook”, a uniquely comprehensive guide to more than one thousand ways to fall foul of UK criminal law. He is Editor of the Upper Case Legal Journal and has been writing blog posts for the past eight years.

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