Chief praises his team after Inspectorate report improvements

07/02/2013

Merseyside and Cheshire's most senior prosecutor has praised his team as the latest government inspection report shows that performance is improving even topping national figures in many areas.

The report from HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) points to progress across the service and says a reorganisation, which has seen six offices across the counties soon to reduce to one and a centralisation of functions, has helped improve the way it deals with cases.

When HMCPSI first inspected the CPS service in Merseyside and Cheshire in 2010, it found weaknesses in the performance regime and culture and was critical of the standards of casework and decision-making.

However, since the two Areas combined as CPS Mersey-Cheshire in 2011 there have been improvements in both the Magistrates and Crown Court teams and this latest, inspection, which culminated in September 2012, showed that performance is now better than the national average in many areas.

Paul Whittaker, CBE, Chief Crown Prosecutor of CPS Mersey-Cheshire said: "Im delighted with this report which is a testament to the hard work, resilience and professionalism of the team here at CPS Mersey-Cheshire.
Our people, like many in the public sector, face a tough financial climate. This has meant some difficult choices for us; weve closed offices and lost around a third of our staff since 2010. In spite of this squeeze on resources, our performance continues to improve, demonstrating that our restructure and centralisation strategy is reaping rewards a fact that is borne out by this latest Inspectorate report."

Of the cases assessed the key outcomes show:-

 Improvements in decision making and case progression since 2010 has meant successful outcomes - guilty pleas or convictions after trial -  in the Crown and Magistrates' Court teams are up on 2010 figures and better the national average. The Crown Court team scored 84.8%  beating the 82.9% figure from 2010, and topping the national average of 81.1%.

 While in the Magistrates'  team there were successful outcomes in 87.2% of cases, bettering the 84.5% the team recorded in 2010 and the national average score of 86.7%

 Improvements in the quality  of the casework is securing guilty pleas in 75.8% of cases in the Magistrates' Court which is up on the 2010 figure of 71.2% and beat the national figure of 71.3%.

 While in the Crown Court, guilty pleas account for 79.3% of cases, topping the national figure of 72.4% and the Area's 2010 figure of 78.5%.. 

HM Chief Inspector, Michael Fuller QPM, said: "I am pleased that, even throughout this period of significant change, the CPS has been able to focus on the issues identified in our previous inspection. The senior management team used the findings of that report and the recommendations made to direct action to improve performance.

"The change in management structure, together with the combining of the two former Areas into one and bringing staff from both Merseyside and Cheshire into one geographical location has also resulted in good progress in addressing the concerns we had.

"All staff are to be congratulated on the progress to date, particularly when taking into consideration the extent and speed of change."

Inspectors did find areas for improvement and cited staff morale and communications, both internally and between the CPS and external partners, as critical for future success.

Mr Whittaker agreed saying: "The pace and amount of change has meant a lot of uncertainty for our team and has exposed the necessity to better address the issues of partner agencies.

"We've also been leading the way nationally towards digital working which has proved extremely challenging.

"We are addressing these issues. We are increasing and improving in-house training for all relevant staff on digital working processes. A comprehensive development programme for our managers is being implemented and we are assigning ever clearer roles and responsibilities to improve contact with partners. This will ensure that all our stakeholders are engaged, informed and involved in shaping this service for the future.

ends

For more information or to request an interview with Mr Whittaker, please contact Sharon King, Area Communications Manager on 0151 239 6465.

Performance figures relate to the rolling year to June 2012
2010 figures relate to CPS Mersey-Cheshire annual figures 2010 - 2011

Notes to editors:
1. A total of 150 finalised cases were examined comprising of 50 Cheshire cases and 100 Merseyside cases.

2. The full report is available at on the HMCPSI website: www.hmcpsi.gov.uk

3. The 2010 inspection of Merseyside and Cheshire Areas was published in March 2011.

4. HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate is an independent statutory body established by the Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate Act 2000, which came into force on 1 October 2000. The Chief Inspector is appointed by, and reports to, the Attorney General.

5. The inspection team consisted of legal and business management inspectors.