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Minutes of the CPS Board meeting on 28 July 2015

Present

Alison Saunders (Chair)
Peter Lewis
Paul Staff
Jim Brisbane
Alan Jenkins
Derek Manuel
Jeremy Newman
Alison Porter

Guests

Jack Newby– Item 4
Sara Carnegie – Item 5
Adrian Foster – Item 6
Anita Misra – Item 8

Apologies

None

Secretariat

Rachel Gough
Helen Kershaw

Item 1: Minutes and Actions of Last Meeting

1. The minutes of the last meeting held on 26 May 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 casework
  • Key meetings attended since the last Board meeting in May
  • The new format and work programme of the Criminal Justice Board
  • Appointment of the CPS Director of Communications
  • Considerations in relation to future CPS Area Structure

3. The Chief Executive provided an update on HM Courts and Tribunal Service reform programme.

Item 3: Spending Review

4. Paul Staff outlined the process and associated timescales for submitting Departmental plans to HM Treasury in respect of the 2015 Spending Review. The outcomes of the review would be announced by the Chancellor on 25 November.

Item 4: CPS Business Plan 2015-16

5. Jack Newby presented the latest draft CPS Business Plan 2015-16. This had been updated following discussion at the last Board meeting in May and, additionally, in response to comments received on a further amended version circulated out of committee. The Board was invited to consider and agree a final plan for publication.

6. In response to points of issue raised previously by the Board the following was agreed:

  • The measure on unsuccessful outcomes owing to witness issues should be retained as currently stated for the "Service to Victims and Witnesses" objective.
  • A victim and witness satisfaction survey should be conducted every other year. This period of time would allow for purposeful action to be taken in relation to previous survey results and the impact of this to be reflected in the next survey. This was also the recommended approach for producing reliable trend data.
  • While it would be important to continue to record data in relation to the Victims Right to Review Scheme, this measure did not serve as a clear indicator of corporate performance and should not be retained for the 2015-16 plan. For transparency purposes the business plan should commit to publishing this data elsewhere; either in the CPS Annual Report or via a quarterly online statement.
  • A commitment to increase conviction rates in all CPS Areas alone would not suffice. An optimum rate should instead be identified that was both credible and would not drive dysfunctional behaviour. 80% should be set as the minimum expected conviction rate.
  • "Tools and Skills for the Job" should be retained as a strategic objective title for the purposes of the 2015-16 plan. This would be reviewed again for 2016-17.
  • To drive performance improvement a % figure that represents departmental ambition will be required for the Employee Engagement Index (EEI) measure. This should be both stretching and achievable. The ambition should be to meet the Civil Service average within three years.
  • Data on working time lost to absence was already captured elsewhere and was not a strategic measure to be included in the business plan.
  • Proportion of requirements met for digital service at Crown Court was not clear as a measure. The measure should instead be expressed as an ambition to serve documents digitally on the courts once their working practices have been digitalised.
  • Proceeds of crime should be retained and the level of ambition set as an improved direction of travel.
  • Reducing administrative costs should be retained as a key indicator of efficiency.

7. A final version of the Business Plan should be produced which reflects the Board's comments. [ACTION J1]

Item 5: Strategy and Planning (Environmental Analysis)

8. Sara Carnegie invited the Board to consider the latest environmental analysis and provide views on the strategic direction of the CPS. Discussion took place on the key strategic challenges the organisation might face in the future.

9. In respect of casework pressures, a request was made for further analysis to be provided on the impact of caseload changes in terms of cost and additional lawyer resources required. This would assist the Board in better understanding the scale of change. [ACTION J2]

10. A further piece of work was also identified in relation to victim and witness engagement. The Victims Business Board should be commissioned to undertake this work. [ACTION J3]

Item 6: Serious Casework Review

11. Adrian Foster presented the findings of the Serious Casework Review. The report detailed three potential structure options for efficient management of the most serious CPS casework to ensure capacity and capability for the future.

12. The Board was asked to consider 14 decisions in relation to these options (set out in a cover paper accompanying the report). The following responses were provided by the Board to these decisions:

  • Decision 1: Agreed
  • Decision 2: Agreed
  • Decision 3: Agreed
  • Decision 4: Not agreed. Steer provided on course of action.
  • Decision 5: Agreed
  • Decision 6: Agreed
  • Decision 7: Agreed
  • Decision 8: Agreed
  • Decision 9: Not agreed
  • Decision 10: Agreed
  • Decision 11: Agreed
  • Decision 12: Not agreed. Steer provided on course of action.
  • Decision 13: Not agreed. Steer provided on course of action.
  • Decision 14: Agreed

13. These decisions would form the basis of the consultation with staff which was anticipated to launch mid-August. The outcomes would be reported to the Board in September following which final conclusions could be made.

Item 7: Talent Management & Succession Planning

14. Derek Manuel, Chair of the Nominations and Governance Committee introduced the mid-year report on the CPS' talent management and succession planning arrangements. Members noted the update on talent programmes that were in operation within the organisation and across the wider Civil Service. The Committee would continue to give focus to these matters on behalf of the Board as part of its core work programme.

Item 8: Risk Management

15. Anita Misra summarised the CPS risk management process which had been applied over the course of 2014-15. Assurance was provided that the process was embedding well and operating effectively. Finance Directorate would continue to provide support to Areas and build upon the existing framework.

16. A review of the strategic risks would be conducted in alignment with Spending Review considerations. The Board noted that following this there may be a requirement to reflect again on the organisation's risk appetite.

17. Queries were raised around the Areas' self-assessment of their risks (summarised at Annex A) and a view expressed that the rationale for some of the assessments was not clear. The Board was advised that this was an evolving process, the purpose of which was to enable Areas to effectively apply a degree of rigour to their own risk management. In particular, to understand the root cause of risk and corresponding mitigation.

18. The Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee updated the Board on the now routine practice of inviting CPS Areas to the Committee to discuss their risk management process in more detail.

Item 9: Senior Management Conference

19. Helen Kershaw invited early views from the Board on the agenda, format and content of the annual senior management conference which was due to take place on 9 December. A central London venue would be confirmed shortly.

20. Members advised that they would be content for the secretariat to continue to seek their views out of committee as planning progressed.

Item 10: AOB

21. No other business was raised.

Date of next meeting: 24 September 2015

Board Secretariat
July 2015