CPS Response to ‘CPS Handling of Custody Time Limits' - 16 December 2021
Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) has today issued a report following their Inspection of CPS Handling of Custody Time Limits (CTLs).
Within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on caseloads, the overall aim of the inspection was to establish if the CPS was calculating and monitoring CTL expiry dates effectively and making good quality decisions regarding decisions to remand defendants in custody, whilst ensuring that staff were offered appropriate guidance and support around temporary legislative changes to CTL regulations.
We note that inspectors found that the legislative changes had been communicated to staff in an intelligible and timely manner and that tools and guidance provided were effective in minimising errors and ensuring that monitoring systems were updated and appropriate back-up systems were put in place. Inspectors found that decisions to remand defendants in custody and to apply for an extension of the CTL were appropriate in the cases that they examined.
The findings of the report demonstrate that our staff have responded well to the increasing demands placed upon them by the changes made to CTLs arising from the pandemic.
The report makes recommendations that we accept as they will assist us in further improving the accurate calculation of CTLs, the standard of our reviews, and the quality of our CTL extension applications.
The CPS should ensure that there is a more consistent use of the CMS CTL case progression log ensuring that all Areas use this effectively to support the management of CTL cases.
CPS Response: We will refresh the National Standards for the Management of CTLs to emphasise the importance of maintaining accurate case progression logs and ensure that staff are provided with further guidance and an updated template to ensure consistent completion in every CTL case.
A system to ensure that details of the action taken on the case at the 28-day review date should be noted on the case in CMS should be developed. CPS headquarters should reaffirm the expectation that all CTL actions should be recorded on CMS.
CPS Response: CPS Headquarters will work with Areas to ensure that the actions identified at the 28-day review are summarised on the CTL case progression log to ensure that there is an accurate record of all events and actions that occur throughout the life of the case recorded on CMS.
The CPS should ensure that all agents and counsel representing the prosecution at court complete and return the template HRS in all cases – with a specific requirement that cases involving a CTL are expedited.
CPS Response: We will ensure that all agents and counsel are provided with a template HRS at the time of instruction. They will be requested to update one continuous HRS and return a copy to us at the conclusion of each hearing.