Solicitor General visits CPS Wessex

18/10/2013

The Solicitor General Oliver Heald QC MP yesterday visited the Portsmouth office in CPS Wessex. The visit formed part of a fact finding tour of Crown Prosecution Service offices across England and Wales. Discussion focused on advancements in digital working across Wessex, human trafficking prosecutions and provided an opportunity to meet staff.

The Solicitor General heard about how CPS Wessex is leading the way nationally in digital working  which is a concept aimed at enhancing digital technology and driving efficiencies with the Criminal Justice System. This involves moving from paper files to digital files.

Kate Brown, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Crown Prosecution Service Wessex said: "In Wessex nearly all magistrates court cases are being prosecuted paperless through a tablet device. Since 17 December 2012 the Portsmouth office has been piloting digital working in the Crown Court with approximately 80% of cases being fully digital. Plans are in place to roll out digital working in the Crown Court across Wessex in the coming year.

"The fantastic work we have been doing in relation to digital working has allowed us to move forward in adopting a more streamlined struture across the whole of Wessex which will create larger more resilient teams that will be able to maintain performance with fewer resources and deliver a high quaility prosecution service. This will include specialist teams staffed with experts in their field such as Rape and Serious Sexual Assualts".

The Solicitor General also heard about the prosecution of David Siwak in February 2013. Mr Siwak, a Polish national who was jailed at Portsmouth Crown Court to six years imprisonment for exploiting four Polish workers who were enticed into coming to the United Kingdom to work. He was also convicted of four offences of forcing a person to perform forced labour and four offences of human trafficking. The case is an awful tale of exploitation with Mr Siwak recruiting workers from Poland with false promises that they could expect a decent life and decent pay working in the United Kingdom.

The Solicitor General Oliver Heald QC MP said: "Ahead of Anti-Slavery day tomorrow I spoke with prosecutors about the importance of bringing offenders like Mr Siwak to justice.  Its examples of this kind that I am taking to a meeting with the Prime Minister on this very issue.  I have been impressed with the hard work and commitment of staff from CPS Wessex".