CPS Successes of the month - July 2011
- Anthony Madison develops a Custody Time Limit calculator for Excel
- Adrian Phillips and Ifza Javed show remarkable dedication in a case of multi million pound tax fraud
- Karen Jones helps to develop East African counter terrorism strategies
- Andrew Fox and Gaynor Norton work collaboratively to secure convictions against organised crime gang
- CPS Surrey staff recognised by inspectorate
Development of a Custody Time Limit [CTL] Calculator
Anthony Madison is a performance management analyst in Operations Directorate at CPS HQ and is regarded as a computer wizard by all who work with him.
Anthony has developed a Custody Time Limit calculator. It sounds simple, but it is an extremely clever and useful Microsoft Excel tool to calculate difficult custody time limit expiry dates. Since the 1980s, staff have relied on their fingers and calendars, which carries with it the normal human error risks. Needless to say, the calculator has been very warmly received by all Areas.
After 24 years of struggling with these calculations, his invention has brought welcome relief to all operational staff.
Anthony said: "One of my first jobs in the CPS following the merger with RCPO was to check the calculations in our annually produced ready-reckoner, a single page sheet that listed the CTL expiry dates to be used for every day of the year. My colleague, David Evans, suggested that an automated solution would be far more useful and might assist with the recalculation of CTL dates which was not possible using the previous manual system.
"It wasnt very difficult to produce. The challenge was enabling the calculator to take into account both weekends and bank holidays when calculating dates. Since the publication of the calculator at Easter, I have been very happy to hear back from several staff who have welcomed the tool and use it regularly in their day to day work."
Anthony is now developing the app for other platforms.
A colleague in Operations, David Evans, said: "Accurate and prompt observance of the custody time limit regime is vital, but the calculations are not always straightforward, for example, when a defendant who has been released on bail by the court breaches that bail and possibly commits a further offence. If this happens at different times to different defendants in the same case, these calculations can be horrifically complicated.
"Anthony Madison's CTL calculator is a clever, intuitive use of an Excel spreadsheet. It is simple and accurate and provides results, which are guaranteed to be accurate and can be produced as quickly as it takes to type in a date or two."
The program, currently available to CPS staff from the Services intranet (under Applications), will be installed on all CPS laptops so that prosecutors at court can use it.
Operation R: Conspiracy to cheat the Revenue
(this case has been anonymised, due to ongoing reporting restrictions)
This case is remarkable for the dedication displayed by both Adrian Phillips and Ifza Javed, who spent many evenings, often up to midnight, working on file preparation with the police, only for Ifza to then man the phone from 7am at crucial points in the case.
The team made best use of their resources by involving Ifza in case preparation. She spent over a month at the police station, which allowed the reviewing lawyer, Adrian, the time he needed to focus on the legal issues and follow-on cases. Both Adrian and Ifza were praised by the police and leading and junior counsel for their exceptional level of commitment to ensuring the success of this case.
The case involved senior members of a number of companies who were charged with offences of conspiring to cheat the Revenue, involving a loss of many millions of pounds. Four defendants were found guilty after trial, one pleaded guilty and there was one acquittal. The principal defendant received four years imprisonment and taken alongside a 13-year sentence for another offence, he is now said to be facing the longest term for fraud offences in the UK. Across the two operations, this defendant's benefit from the fraud was tens of millions of pounds. All of the money involved in the case will be subject to confiscation orders.
From investigation to trial took nearly four years and involved many complex issues.
Adrian said: "The complexities of the case were riveting, and the case amounted to a war of attrition between prosecution and defence. However, for me, the most absorbing aspect of it all was the defendants. Their astonishing confidence and self belief can only be matched by their lavish life style: Bentleys, Ferraris, Porsches and Aston Martins were ten a penny as were trips to the most expensive hotels in London with nights spent in luxurious suits with outings to casinos. Key defendants' homes were also astonishing.
"The prosecution team has become very close-knit over the period of the case and was an excellent example of inter-agency working. Locally, we were very well supported by senior management who understood the issues surrounding the case, and ensured that the support and resources needed were put in place.
"Finally, I have to pay tribute to Ifza - she has been simply fantastic and has worked above and beyond throughout the case."
Ifza said: "I undertook the preparation of the file with the assistance of West Midlands police and HMRC, spending approximately six weeks initially at the police station. The original file was over 70 lever arch files and the papers were scanned and served electronically.
"The police kindly allowed me a folder on their computer, which meant I was able to work at the police station, then email it and place it on COMPASS (the CPS case management system). This meant there was no duplication of work between the teams - an efficient working practice.
"By the time the trial arrived, we had served another 10 lever arch files of additional evidence, which were also scanned. We used electronic presentation during trial, which was fantastic and cut down considerably the amount of paper given to the jury.
"I did consider this case my baby, frequently working from 7am-7pm, cancelling and juggling time off and being available at the end of a phone even when I was on leave. I have been proud to play my part in such a successful case."
This was a joint investigation by West Midlands Police and HM Revenue and Customs into a group of companies.
Working in East Africa to improve counter terrorism relationships
Karen has recently been working in East Africa on a very special project during which she needed to develop an understanding of local laws and procedures in an effort to support the wider counter terrorism strategies of several organisations in relation to that region.
This followed a request from SO15 Counter Terrorism Command at the Metropolitan Police Service, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other UK agencies in London and in East Africa to assist with their strategy to deal with the terrorism threat. She has done so in a way that has improved prosecutions and evidence gathering locally and which has assisted East African countries with developing their legislation and capacity building.
In Nairobi, Karen and the team met with British High Commission staff as well as regional leads from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to discuss counter terrorism and piracy, and with the United Nations Development Programme about their work in Somalia. Finally, they met the US Department of Justice Resident Legal Advisor for Nairobi.
These meetings confirmed that there is a real place for the CPS in helping countries in the region both in how they deal with individual cases and in developing their ability to deal with terrorism and related issues using local law. National and international security issues depend on countries co-operating and assisting one another, and the CPS has a lot of expertise to offer.
Through her work, Karen has made a significant contribution to the ability of these countries to fight the very real threat they face from terrorism by using their criminal justice systems effectively and potentially to the provision of admissible evidence for us to use in prosecuting terrorists here and protecting the UK from harm.
Karen provided expert assistance throughout. She worked through a lot of the detail of Somaliland law and procedure, which allowed the CPS to discuss both counter terrorism strategy and tactical approaches in the context of the local legal system with credibility because the similarities and differences were properly understood.
Karen said: "Everyone involved in this area of criminal justice, regardless of country, shares the same objective of bringing terrorists to justice and, through engaging at an international level, goals can be achieved which are beneficial both in that country and in the interests of the UK."
Sue Hemming, Head of the Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: "Karen has put in a considerable amount of time and commitment to this project; fitting the detailed research and preparation around a heavy and complex case load and in doing so contributing a great deal of her own time. The excellent contribution that Karen made on an earlier visit to Kenya resulted in this specific request for wider help across the East African region.
"I am proud of the excellent contribution that she has made."
R v Farquhar and others
An organised crime gang based in Cumbria were involved in conspiracies to import cigarettes, drug smuggling and money laundering. The organiser, Peter Farquhar, was based in Thailand. He was arrested on his return to the UK and also faced allegations of benefit fraud. The CPS led this prosecution, but worked closely with the DWP. It was a complex case involving a large volume of material and witnesses.
Although five of the six conspirators pleaded guilty at the pre-trial review, Farquhar continued to deny all counts on the indictment. He was convicted after trial and was sentenced to three years and nine months. The prosecution will also be seeking confiscation of the proceeds from the defendants in due course.
In common with many cases prosecuted through the Central Fraud Group, there are logistical difficulties in running long trials in courts many miles away, particularly with a second prosecuting agency based in Leeds. CPS Carlisle were contacted before the trial and provided fantastic support to the legal team on the ground including ensuring that effective witness care was provided, sending daily reports back to CFG and providing invaluable help with trial cover.
This case shows how the Central Fraud Group works well with Area CPS colleagues as well as with other prosecuting authorities to achieve the best results.
Gaynor Norton, Case Manager, said: "This was the first case in our office that involved working with the police, having previously worked with HM Revenue and Customs. Having to very quickly familiarise and acquaint ourselves with procedures and systems like CMS - the CPS Case Management System - and the Witness Care element that we had never encountered before was a huge challenge but one that I enjoyed.
"Throughout the case, both Andrew and I enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the Police (Case) Officers. We have since received very positive feedback on our efficiency and how effective it was having the same lawyer and case manager throughout the whole life of the case. They felt it made their jobs much easier. As a result, the case progressed very smoothly and successfully. Naturally, we are very pleased with the result."
This case involved an investigation by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency and the Department for Work and Pensions.
Much improved HMCPSI report
The latest inspection report for CPS Surrey, in June, found that the Area had improved significantly in almost all areas of its work.
Roger Coe-Salazar, Chief Crown Prosecutor for the South East Area, said: "This report shows that when you combine sustained dedication, skill and confidence; then place it within a clear strategic framework, you end up with the success that has now been recognised within Surrey.
"Having worked closely with the local Management Team and seen the first rate calibre of staff across all levels in Surrey, the Inspectorate report findings come as no surprise. Of course it is nice (and right) to briefly pause and reflect on the successes achieved, but inevitably focus is already on building upon it.
"This success follows a 2009 assessment which concluded that, although having made some improvements, the Area needed to improve further still in order to warrant more than an assessment of Fair."