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Core Quality Standards to become the focus for the CPS

25/03/2010

Today, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, issued the first set of Core Quality Standards for the Crown Prosecution Service.

Mr Starmer said: "The Core Quality Standards set out in plain language the key requirements for a successful prosecution. They inform members of the public of the level of service they can expect from those who prosecute on their behalf. Likewise, they inform CPS staff of what is expected of them and how they will be held to account for the quality of the service provided.

"From now on, Core Quality Standards will become the focus for the CPS, allowing us to build on existing good practice and to tackle poor performance effectively."

Baroness Scotland QC, who, as Attorney General, superintends the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "I welcome the publication of these Core Quality Standards. They will be an important tool for improving the quality of service the CPS delivers.

"As a modern prosecution service, the CPS continues to be more and more
accountable to the public it serves."

The standards are listed and explained in detail in the Core Quality Standards booklet, which is available on the CPS website. Each standard covers a particular area of work:

Standard 1: We will provide the police and other investigators with advice to assist in tackling crime effectively and bringing offenders to justice.

Standard 2: We will make timely, effective and fair charging decisions in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

Standard 3: We will use out-of-court disposals as alternatives to prosecution, where appropriate, to gain speedy reparation for victims and to rehabilitate or punish offenders.

Standard 4: We will oppose bail for defendants where appropriate, taking particular account of the risk posed to victims and the public.

Standard 5: We will prepare all our cases promptly and in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Rules so that guilty pleas can be entered at the earliest opportunity, and fair trials can take place on the appointed dates.

Standard 6: We will present our cases fairly and firmly.

Standard 7: We will assess the needs of victims and witnesses, keep them informed about the progress of their case and seek appropriate support to help them to give their best evidence.

Standard 8: We will explain our decisions to victims when we stop cases or substantially alter the charge.

Standard 9: We will assist the court in the sentencing process and seek to confiscate the proceeds of crime.

Standard 10: We will consider whether to exercise our rights of appeal when we believe the court has made the wrong legal decision.

Standard 11: We will deal promptly and openly with complaints about our decisions and the service we provide.

Standard 12: We will engage with communities so that we are aware of their concerns when we make decisions.

Members of the public and those involved with the criminal justice system had the opportunity to comment on the Standards as part of a consultation exercise which ended in January 2010.

Mr Starmer said: "The responses to the consultation were very useful to us. They focused on issues including how they will impact on our work with partners in the criminal justice system.

"I was particularly pleased by responses from our staff who discussed them in team meetings and their comments underlined how those who work for the CPS are committed to providing a quality service."

In July 2009, the DPP set out the future of the organisation in Public Prosecution Service: Setting the Standard, which announced the Core Quality Standards as the key to a transparent and accountable prosecution service. He said at the time: "Core Quality Standards lie at the heart of ensuring that excellence is delivered as the norm throughout the national service."

Ends

  1. For further information contact the CPS Press Office, 020 7796 8180.
  2. The Core Quality Standards booklet is available on the CPS website.
  3. The Core Quality Standards booklet is one of two key published and publicly available documents that explain the purpose and work of the prosecution service. The second is the Code for Crown Prosecutors.  Only the Code is issued by law.
  4. CASE STUDIES:
    • Standard 3 - We will engage with communities so that we are aware of their concerns when we make decisions.
       
      CPS Merseyside has been working with the North West Ambulance Service to tackle the rise in assaults on ambulance crews. Following the introduction of the Community Prosecutor approach, the Recorder of Liverpool agreed that CPS prosecutors can read a prepared community impact statement to the court, explaining such attacks on staff and how they impact on the community.
    • Standard 9 - We will explain our decisions to victims when we stop cases or substantially alter the charge.
       
      In November 2009, a District Crown Prosecutor received a call from an irate couple embroiled in a neighbour dispute. She invited them to her office, spent three hours with them and explained that - although no charge could be made at that time - if certain evidence could be gathered they may be able to bring a charge. She set about helping them put together a case.
    • Standard 11 - We will exercise our rights of appeal when we believe the court has made the wrong legal decision.
       
      When a Recorder in Cardiff handed a sentence of just five years to a man who had stabbed a defenceless man around 20 times in a chilling revenge attack, Chris Woolley, Chief Crown Prosecutor for South Wales, referred the case to the Attorney General, who referred it as an unduly lenient sentence to the Court of Appeal. It was felt the defendant should have been dealt with at the top level of wounding with intent guidelines. Following the appeal, the sentence was increased to eight years.
  5. The Crown Prosecution Service is the independent authority responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution
    • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute
    • Preparing cases for court
    • Presenting cases at court
  6. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). These are organised into 14 Groups, plus CPS London, each overseen by Group Chair, a senior CCP. In addition there are five specialised national divisions: Organised Crime, Special Crime, Counter-Terrorism, Fraud Prosecution, and Revenue and Customs. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,250 people and prosecuted 1,032,598 cases with an overall conviction rate of 86.6% in 2008-2009. Further information can be found on our website.

    More about the CPS

  7. The DPP has published his long term vision for the prosecution service and its role within the wider criminal justice system. It includes modernising the service and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of criminal justice - read "The Public Prosecution Service: Setting the Standard" at www.cps.gov.uk/pps
  8. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests.

    Publicity and the Criminal Justice System protocol