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CPS statement on HMCPSI follow up audit on Direct Communications with Victims

20/10/2009

Following the publication of the HMCPSI report into the follow up audit of the Crown Prosecution Service's (CPS) performance regarding the Direct Communications with Victims (DCV) Scheme, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, said: "We welcome the report and we are satisfied that the Inspectorate recognised that since the last audit we have made some improvement. The report shows that letters were sent in 72.9 per cent of relevant cases, an increase of 11 per cent on what was found in the last audit, and that our new monitoring system, used to record details of DCV letters sent, has improved the recording and accuracy of the timeliness of letters.

"Our aim is to ensure a first class service to victims and witnesses and DCV is part of the wide range of services that the CPS provides to them. Since the DCV scheme became part of the Victim's Code of Practice, launched in 2006, it now has a statutory footing and its inclusion within the Victim's Code means that performance will be measured against a target of 100 per cent compliance with victim notification and 100 per cent timeliness.

"We know that these are challenging targets. The report points out that our performance has improved to a level where nearly 90 per cent of letters that are required to be sent within five days are meeting that target, but in cases where letters were sent to vulnerable or intimidated victims, only 77 per cent of the letters, which are required to be sent within one day, met the target. Although the report identifies that we have made improvements on the timeliness and the quality of the letters, we are aware that we have not met our objectives and therefore will continue to work hard to meet them and also improve the quality of the letters through ongoing training.

"We will continue to monitor our performance in relation to identifying appropriate cases and the timeliness of letters. We have delivered additional training to improve performance further in this regard. In addition, we have developed Good Practice Guidance to assist CPS Areas in having appropriate systems in place to facilitate the writing of good quality letters alongside the decision making process.

"We are also currently in the process of developing a Core Quality Standards document which we expect to publish later this year, which will clearly state, for the benefit of our staff and for the public, the standard of service that can be expected from us in relation to all areas of our core business.

"The audit report refers to the proxy target system used by the CPS for measuring compliance with the DCV scheme as being unsatisfactory. Whilst the CPS accepts that the target is not sensitive, it has in the past been an indicator of performance and has helped to highlight areas of under performance and has been a driver for improvement. However, with improvements having been achieved in relation to the number and timeliness of letters, we will now review the proxy target with a view to developing a more accurate measure of our performance."

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