CPS’s response to HMCPSI into unsuccessful outcomes in Magistrates’ Court cases in Dorset

30/04/2014

"We welcome the recommendations of Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) into unsuccessful outcomes in magistrates' court cases in Dorset," said Kate Brown, Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Wessex following the publication of the report.

"At the time that HMCPSI conducted its review CPS Wessex was undertaking the restructure and the refocusing of its Area and since November, 18, 2013 our Area operates from its new structure."

The Inspectorate in its report has made the following three recommendations for CPS Wessex.

 Feedback should be provided to the police on police charge cases that are discontinued, identifying reasons for the discontinuance.

The Area needs to ensure there is effective regular monitoring by senior management of discontinued cases and that lessons learned and trends identified are acted upon.

The Area should consider reinstating Prosecution Team Performance Management meetings (PTPM) with the police.
Ms Brown said: It is very important for us to understand why we have unsuccessful outcomes. Last year, we introduced Quarterly Performance Review (QPR) meetings for each unit during which, unsuccessful outcomes are scrutinised, trends are identified and actions are taken.

Mrs Brown said: "The Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor (DCCP), the Area Business Manager and I chair those meetings and monitor progress during each quarter.

"In addition, the DCCP and the Senior District Crown Prosecutor responsible for the magistrates' court unit, receive every fortnight, data on magistrates court attrition rates, which they discuss and then decide what actions need to be acted upon.

"We work very closely with the Police, Her Majesty's Court and Tribunal Services and meet regularly at our Local Criminal Justice Boards, Criminal Justice Efficiency Board and our Operational Stream Line sub-group, where attrition rate is discussed and feedback is given to the police, when it concerns cases that they charged and PTPM packs are discussed.

"Our Area has changed dramatically as a result of the Refocusing of the CPS, throughout the last four years.

"The Bournemouth office that HMCPSI visited closed on November, 15, 2013. At the time the Inspectorate visited this office, our process and ways of working were going through radical changes.

"The Bournemouth office was part of CPS Dorset, which with CPS Hampshire and Isle of Wight and Wiltshire merged into one Area CPS Wessex in 2011. Since then, we have undertaken a huge amount of work to ensure that throughout these three counties, the service that we deliver is consistent.

"This has been aligned with the work that started nationally last year to refocus the CPS. We therefore decided that we will move away from having a magistrate and Crown Court unit in each county, to a magistrates and one Crown Court unit for the whole Wessex. They would work alongside the Complex Casework Unit and the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit.

"The closure of four offices, the transition period to move to our new structure, the lack of resilience has impacted on our staff and our relationship with the police in terms of being able to provide feedback. This is highlighted in this report.

"However, I am confident that now that we have completed the Refocusing and re-structure of CPS Wessex that we will become more resilient and will be able to deliver a more efficient and effective service to the public we serve."