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Minutes of the CPS Board meeting on 24 March 2015

Present

Alison Saunders (Chair)
Paul Staff
Alan Jenkins
Derek Manuel
Jeremy Newman
Alison Porter

Guests

Mark Summerfield – Item 4
Estelle Wright – Item 4
Sue Hemming – Item 5
Keith Milburn – Item 5
Anita Misra – Item 6
Jack Newby – Item 7
Paul Whittaker – Item 8
Joanna Millington – Item 9

Apologies

Peter Lewis
Jim Brisbane

Secretariat

Rachel Gough
Helen Kershaw


Item 1: Minutes and Actions of Last Meeting

1. The minutes of the last meeting held on 24 February 2015 were agreed. Progress was noted against the three actions arising.

Item 2: Strategic Update

2. The Director updated the board on the following matters:

  • Recent high profile cases
  • Meetings attended since the last Board
  • Launch of the Modern Slavery Act
  • CPS guidance on speaking to victims and witnesses at court
  • HMCPSI Report on CPS Advocacy Strategy
  • Recruitment of independent members to the Audit and Risk Committee
  • Transforming Summary Justice

Item 3: Spending Review Planning

3. Paul Staff, Director of Corporate Services, provided a report on the on the current financial position. This reflected the improvements in controls on expenditure and confirmed that the department would meet its budget for 2014-15. He also explained some of the preparation and planning underway in collaboration with the Treasury for the spending review that was expected to follow the election.

Item 4: Employee Engagement

4. A representative of ORC International attended the meeting to present the findings of independent analysis into CPS employee engagement. Following the 2014 People Survey, research was commissioned to obtain a better understanding of the results, which represented a one percentage point decline in the Employee Engagement Index (EEI), as well as broad variations in EEI performance across the Service.

5. The presentation summarised the main factors that enhanced engagement, as well as the common challenges faced by staff that could negatively impact on their engagement.

6. Discussion took place on next steps and the departmental response to the research findings, with a view to driving improvements in engagement across the Service in 2015. Mark Summerfield, HR Director explained the activity that would be taken forward as part of the CPS leadership programme, advising that this programme would have an important role in addressing many of the key challenges identified.

7. The importance of sharing best practice across the department was emphasised and it was acknowledged that all CPS Areas, not just those with high EEI performance, would have points of learning to exchange. It was suggested that a partner arrangement be put in place between Areas to facilitate identification and implementation of best practice. The Board agreed that the ORC report should be disseminated widely across the CPS.

Item 5: Casework Quality Assurance in Central Casework Divisions

8. Keith Milburn provided an introduction to the national approach for managing and providing assurance on higher tier CPS casework. This was to ensure that the Board had sufficient overview of performance across all parts the Service, not just for CPS Areas, which were subject to regular detailed reporting at Board meetings.

9. Sue Hemming explained how processes and procedures were applied in the Central Casework Divisions, and more specifically in the Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division. While the size and specialism of the team limited the scope for peer review, a range of other assurance activity took place in relation to these cases. This included reviews by managers, local case management panels, Director’s case management panels and regular post case reviews.

10. The Board confirmed it was content that the approach described provided the necessary level of assurance. It would however be important to formalise this assurance in an annual report to the board. This should contain detail on processes, any matters that have arisen, remedial action taken to deliver improvements and lessons learnt. [ACTION M1]

11. It was agreed that the non-executive directors be invited to attend a Director’s Case Management Panel. [ACTION M2]

Item 6: Risk Management and Assurance Framework

12. The Board was invited to review the updated Corporate Risk Register and endorse the strategic risks.

13. Members confirmed that they were content that the strategic risks had been accurately identified but requested that further consideration be given to the heat map assessment. Paul Staff noted the Board’s comments and agreed to liaise further with risk owners to ensure accuracy and objectivity of assessments. [ACTION M3]

14. Anita Misra provided an update on the transition to an improved CPS Assurance Framework which would provide supporting evidence for the production of the annual Governance Statement.

15. The Board welcomed this as a positive step toward achieving more robust assurance. However, it was noted that the process was still evolving and consideration would need to be given to the format for bringing together and presenting assurances from the two strands of accountability (operational and corporate). This would be for the purposes of providing a strategic overview, required by the Accounting Officer and the Board and to support the Governance Statement. [ACTION M4]

Item 7: 2015/16 Business Planning

16. Jack Newby updated the Board on the development of the 2015-16 CPS Business Plan following initial discussion on the approach at the February meeting.

17. The Board confirmed it was content for the current four strategic objectives to be retained as the planning framework for next year’s Business Plan. Members agreed that it was prudent to continue with these priorities to maintain consistency of message.

18. The proposed timescales for producing the plan were noted.

Item 8: Common Platform Programme Assurance

19. Paul Whittaker summarised the proposed governance approach for Common Platform Programme (CPP) assurance. In line with this process, the Board would receive progress reports as part of a quarterly stakeholder review process. This would cover a wide range of aspects in two key areas of the programme: technology/digital delivery; and financial and commercial.

20. The formal role and responsibility of the CPS Board in respect of the programme was clarified. While the Board provided formal approval to the programme, the interests of the organisation at this stage were managed through the Chief Executive as joint SRO and Paul Whittaker on the CPP Board. However, there would be a need for closer oversight by the Board when the key business change elements of the programme came into play.

Item 9: Communications Strategy

21. Joanna Millington, Director of Communications provided an overview of the work of the directorate both internally, to support delivery of the CPS’s objectives, and externally to help the public and key stakeholders understand the work of the organisation.

22. There was discussion around the communications strategy, in particular on the priority work strands for communication.

23. The Board was content with progress on internal communications but agreed that greater emphasis was needed on external stakeholder engagement. It would be important to have a clear CPS brand and ensure that this was conveyed consistently. The Board requested that quarterly highlight reports on press coverage and trends be provided in future. [ACTION M5]

24. With regard to internal communications, the team would continue to consider ways to promote greater feedback from staff.

Item 10: Equality and Diversity Objectives 2015-18

25. Alan Jenkins introduced the report on CPS Equality and Diversity Objectives for 2015-18. These had been subject to an initial consultation exercise through the Community Accountability Forum and, following Board approval, would be put for further consultation before final approval and publish.

26. The report was commended for its clarity and the Board confirmed it was broadly content with the objectives, making one suggestion: that objectives three and four be couched in the same way.

Item 11: AOB

27. None raised.

Date of next meeting: 26 May 2015

Board Secretariat, March 2015