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CPS Response to HMCPSI 2020 Charging Inspection: A thematic review of the quality and timeliness of charging decisions

|Publication

HMCPSI has today (29 September 2020) published a report into the work of the CPS in relation to the quality and timeliness of charging decisions.

The CPS is pleased that Inspectors recognise that the quality of legal decision making at the point of charge has improved significantly in the five years since the last inspection. We accept however that there is more to do to improve the quality of our reviews, in particular in relation to clearly setting out case strategy.

We accept all the recommendations made and will use these to shape our improvement activities.

Inspectorate’s recommendations:

1. To assist prosecutors’ development, the CPS should develop a nationally agreed standard of what a good MG3 looks like.

CPS Response:
We will ensure that there is clear guidance available for staff to follow, drawing upon national best practice.

2. The CPS should devise and deliver mandatory classroom training for all Area prosecutors delivering volume charging, which focuses on proactive case analysis, clearly setting out the prosecution case (where a charge is authorised) and devising a trial strategy.

CPS Response:
See 1. We will design and deliver a training package that focuses on the priority areas identified by HMCPSI.

3. CPS Headquarters should consult with CPS Direct senior management and devise a more regular and robust Area quality assurance regime that focuses on the legal quality of charging decisions and the value being added by charging prosecutors.

CPS Response:
We will review our individual quality assurance regime, engaging with CPS Direct senior managers to identify good practice and lessons learnt.

4. The CPS should review, rationalise and simplify the policies and associated guidance that are commonly applied at the pre-charge stage, to provide greater clarity and direction for prosecutors.

CPS Response:
We will undertake a review of our legal guidance and policy material to streamline information and ensure that it is clearer and more concise, so that the guidance is more helpful to prosecutors when they are considering decisions to charge.

Issues to address:

1. Awareness of the content of the Director’s Guidance on Charging varies significantly between Area prosecutors delivering charging. As this is a key document for any charging prosecutor, levels of awareness need to be raised.

CPS Response:
See Recommendations 1 and 2.

2. CPS Headquarters and Area managers should ensure there is a proper focus on the quality of the pre-first appearance review in police charge cases.

CPS Response:
See recommendation 3.

3. The overall standard of Area MG3s requires improvement and the strategy to improve quality should include at an early stage a nationally agreed standard of what a good MG3 looks like.

CPS Response:
See Recommendations 1 and 2.

4. CPS Headquarters should consider whether the five-day deadline for charging decisions in standard cases is realistic and achievable with the resource available.

CPS Response:
We will review this as part of our ongoing evaluation of the charging model.

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