Attorney General visits CPS in Reading

09/05/2011

The Attorney General visited the Reading Office of the Crown Prosecution Service, (CPS) Thames and Chiltern Area, during the afternoon of Monday 9 May, as part of a fact-finding tour around CPS offices in England and Wales.

The Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC MP, is the Government Minister who superintends the CPS, along with other prosecuting bodies. He is the principal chief legal advisor to the Government.

During the visit to the CPS office in Eaton Court, Oxford Road, the Attorney attended a presentation on the Early Guilty Plea (EGP) pilot scheme, which is running successfully in Berkshire. A protocol for the initiative was agreed in August of 2010 with Reading's Resident Judge, HHJ Zoe Smith, who also attended the presentation today.

The aim of the pilot is for at least 50% of new cases to be disposed of as EGP cases; for the guilty plea rate to increase and for the timeliness of guilty pleas to improve. Moreover, early communication with the defence ensures they are aware of the CPS position.

The Attorney General, who afterwards met with staff at the CPS to see how they work locally, was accompanied by the Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern, Baljit Ubhey OBE, who said:

'We were delighted to welcome the Attorney General to the CPS office in Berkshire. It's important he gets a clear understanding of the processes and projects that are taking place across England and Wales, so obviously he needs to see different Areas.

'There is a lot of very good work taking place across CPS Thames and Chiltern and it was nice for us to have the opportunity to showcase the Area in such a good light. I hope the Attorney found the visit interesting as well as informative.'

The Attorney said: 'The Early Guilty Plea pilot demonstrates the police and CPS working together to improve the quality and timeliness of files to ensure that every case identified as an 'EGP' case is served on the defence, in accordance with the protocol.

'I understand that local police managers are taking part in fortnightly conference calls with local CPS managers so that any issues can be addressed. Furthermore, I see that efforts are being made to reduce the amount of work required to build a file, such as serving forensic evidence in its most basic format, to secure early defence identification as to the issues in the case.

'I also enjoyed meeting dedicated and hard-working staff, both lawyers and administrators, who are continuing to ensure the CPS and indeed, the CJS, works effectively and efficiently, despite tough economic circumstances.'Chief Crown Prosecutor, Baljit Ubhey OBE with the Attorney General  

 

Photo: Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern, Baljit Ubhey OBE, with the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC MP