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CPS Response to the HMCPSI Inspection Report on CPS handling of police witness care correspondence, March 2021

|Publication

Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) has today (25 March 2021) issued a report following their Inspection of CPS handling correspondence from police witness care units. The report follows up on a 2019 report into the handling of defence correspondence.

The CPS accepts this report and welcomes the acknowledgement that we have effective systems for handling witness care correspondence efficiently and effectively. We also recognise the positive impact that this can have on case progression, in keeping victims and witnesses informed and increasing public confidence in the criminal justice system. We will continue to work with our partners to improve this.

We are pleased that Inspectors found effective links between witness care units and the CPS. In particular, the links between our IT systems provides tasking functionality that enables us to prioritise and deal with witness issues promptly. The report acknowledges the challenges in processing witness correspondence for those forces which do not currently use the integrated Witness Management System (WMS) however, and we accept this is an issue that will require continued engagement with those forces to ensure that our processes and systems are aligned.

We are keen to further improve our handling of all types of correspondence and will continue to develop training and guidance for our staff, and to work with our partners across the criminal justice system to improve our processes.

Inspectorate’s Recommendations

1. The CPS should encourage the four police forces that do not currently use the witness management system to adopt the system, as this improves the timeliness of handling cases.

CPS Response: The CPS notes this recommendation, whilst the CPS cannot mandate individual police forces to use specific systems, we will share best national practice with the relevant forces.

Inspectorate’s issues to address for the CPS

1. CPS Headquarters should consider liaising with CPS Areas to produce detailed guidance on how witness care correspondence should be managed.

CPS Response: We accept this recommendation and will provide specific guidance on how witness care correspondence should be managed in our standard operating procedures.

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