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Minutes of the CPS Board meeting on 26 May 2015

Present

Alison Saunders (C)
Peter Lewis
Paul Staff
Jim Brisbane (video conference)
Alan Jenkins
Alison Porter
Derek Manuel

Guests

Stephen Shaw – Item 4

Apologies

Jeremy Newman

Secretariat

Rachel Gough
Helen Kershaw


Item 1: Minutes and Actions of Last Meeting

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

Item 2: Strategic Update

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

  • General Election
  • Meetings attended since the last Board
  • CPS Area visits
  • ORC Employee Engagement Report
  • CPS People Week
  • Report on investigation & prosecution of rape in London

3. The Chief Executive provided further updates on the election outcome. This included a summary of aspects of criminal justice which could potentially be subject to future change under the new government.

Item 3: Post-election De-brief

4. Paul Staff, Director of Corporate Services summarised the 2014-15 year-end financial position. An explanation was provided of preparatory work which was being undertaken in collaboration with the Treasury for the spending review.

Item 4: Independent Assessor of Complaints Report

5. Stephen Shaw, CPS Independent Assessor of Complaints (IAC) summarised the headline findings of his second annual report.

6. The Board welcomed the finding that the organisation had progressed in developing an open, positive and engaged approach to complaints handling. While there were still some outstanding issues to address, the Board was reassured by evidence that complaints were being dealt with empathetically, good quality responses provided and efforts made to learn lessons.

7. Discussion took place on compensation to victims. The IAC confirmed that the extension of his terms of reference to award compensation/consolatory payments had allowed for more be done where maladministration had occurred. However, there were difficulties where the wrongdoing was on part of another agency or the complaint concerned failings within the Criminal Justice System more generally, as the IAC had no jurisdiction in these circumstances.

8. The Board noted the two formal recommendations made in the report and agreed that steps now be taken to address these. The report should be published with immediate effect.

Item 5: Q4 Corporate Performance

9. The Board noted the report and held a focussed discussion on the measures to be included in the 2015-16 CPS Business Plan. The Board agreed that the finalised list should be high level, relevant to the future success of the organisation and achievable.

10. Members raised challenge around some of the proposed measures, questioning whether these would capture the outcomes necessary to provide a clear indication of corporate performance. For example, the digital working agenda was critical for the organisation; it would therefore be important to select something that provided a good basis upon which the Board could monitor progress. It should also be clear that victims and witnesses were an enduring theme.

11. Members made the following observations in respect of the changes to the measures:

  • VRR would be a useful measure to retain as it combined both victims and casework quality.
  • In respect of casework quality and the Crown Court, it was queried whether there was an additional measure that could be used in addition to conviction rates.
  • There would be duplication in including both increased conviction rates and conviction rates falling below standard.
  • There were mixed views on retaining a measure on proceeds of crime. While this was considered by some as being a niche measure, it was also recognised that this remained a high profile issue which the Board should continue to monitor.

12. A view was expressed that some of the measures were not necessarily Board level issues, nevertheless it would still be important to capture this data. It was agreed that, while the business plan would contain the headline measures for the organisation, specific reference should be made to the broader suite of performance measures that was maintained elsewhere and reviewed by the Board on a quarterly basis.

13. With regard to the levels of ambition for the measures, a query was raised as to whether there was a requirement to commit to numerical targets or whether this could be set as an improved direction of travel. The position would be clarified with Cabinet Office [ACTION MA1].

14. It was agreed that a further revised plan should be produced which reflected the Board’s comments. This would be agreed out of committee. [ACTION MA2]

Item 6: Q4 Area Performance

15. Jim Brisbane advised of an upward trend in national performance, with a +12.5 point increase observed this quarter. The data was now starting to reflect a refocused organisation that had strong elements of digital working and standardised practices. The Board was briefed on progress in relation to both Magistrates and Crown Court performance.

16. The Board commented positively on the performance improvement this quarter, recognising the efforts of CPS staff in achieving this. It was agreed that this should be recognised in our internal comms [ACTION MA3]

Item 7: AOB

17. None raised.

Date of next meeting: 28 July 2015
Board Secretariat, May 2015