CPS Response to the follow up of the HMCPSI review of the handling by the CPS of disclosure of unused material in the Crown Court, published in January 2020
Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) has today (1 December 2020) issued a follow up report on the CPS handling of disclosure of unused material in the Crown Court. This report follows up on the report published in January 2020.
This report clearly emphasises the importance of effective partnership working and the importance of ensuring our prosecutors have the information they need when providing advice and making charging decisions. The work under the National Disclosure Improvement Plan underlines our joint responsibility to improving our handling of disclosure and we are pleased to see some areas of positive change. However, our focus remains on improving performance and we will carefully reflect upon the findings of this report.
The CPS welcome all the recommendations made in the report which, alongside the changes introduced by the revised Codes of Practice and the Attorney-General’s Guidelines on Disclosure, will be used to shape our future improvement activities.
1. Given the importance of the relationship and impact of the prosecution team performance that a joint inspection of the handling of disclosure is added a priority to the Criminal Justice Joint Inspection business plan for 2021-22.
The CPS welcomes a future joint inspection; improvements in disclosure cannot be made in isolation and it is important that the Police and CPS continue to work closely together to bring about the changes and improvements required.
2. The CPS at an Area level works with the police to identify and address deficiencies in file quality (against the agreed file standards) and use this to influence improvements within the Prosecution Team Performance Meeting (PTPM) and / or the Local Criminal Justice Board (LCJB) structures
PTPMs are an integral part of the way in which the Police and CPS work together to scrutinise performance and make improvements at a local level. Work is already underway to refresh the PTPM structure to ensure they are an effective way of raising and addressing issues with file quality.
3. The CPS should develop a clear strategy to improve the quality and standard of pre-charge reviews and case file reviews including the expectation for reviews to consider and address disclosure issues. This should form a core part of the casework quality agenda and feature as part of the established individual quality assessment “IQA” assurance regime, against which prosecutors should be held accountable and prosecutor compliance assessed to address weaknesses or concerns.
Delivering high quality casework is at the heart of what the CPS does and the IQA process is an important part of making sure the work of our prosecutors is of the standard expected. We accept this recommendation along with the recommendations in the HMCPSI report on Charging and will be taking action to focus the strategy on improving prosecutor reviews.
4. The CPS should improve the capability and capacity of legal managers to understand and set clear expectations for disclosure review records and provide clarity of expectations at all stages of review.
Legal Managers have an important role to play in overseeing the disclosure process. Legal Managers work closely with their teams of prosecutors and with the Police in setting and upholding the standards required. We accept this recommendation and will be taking this forward through a combination of training and use of the wider assurance process.