CPS Response to the HMCPSI thematic inspection report in relation to Disclosure of Unused Material in the Crown Court
HMCPSI have today (9 January 2020) published a report into the handling of unused material in Crown Court, following on from the 2017 joint inspection report Making it fair: the disclosure of unused material in volume Crown Court cases. This report was undertaken at the request of the CPS to give us an independent assessment of progress we have made since the implementation of the National Disclosure Improvement Plan.
We welcome this extensive and detailed report. In total, 555 live trial files and 560 pre-charge decisions were examined. Cases were taken from each of the fourteen geographical CPS Areas. The inspectors asked 95 questions covering the types of unused material, the service received from the police, and CPS performance.
We are pleased the report found the CPS takes its responsibilities on disclosure seriously and that there were examples of significant improvement in CPS performance. The file examination undertaken by inspectors shows that the focus on disclosure in both the police and the CPS is having some impact.
The National Disclosure Improvement Plan (NDIP) was launched in January 2018 and saw the CPS, The National Police Chief’s Council NPCC and College of Policing come together to tackle the long standing issues with the disclosure of unused material.
Now at the second anniversary since launch, there are numerous programmes of work running with a focus on improving operational delivery to make sure police and prosecutors are working better together to embed meaningful change.
We have always been clear that these significant cultural changes will not happen overnight - but as we reach this two year milestone, our commitment to get this right remains as strong as ever. Thanks to an £85 million investment in CPS we are also starting to recruit more prosecutors to futureproof our work around disclosure and fully meet the challenges we face.
Working with police, we have left no stone unturned in the last two years analysing both investigations and prosecutions in every area of our casework to see where changes need to be made. It is encouraging to see progress is being made but clearly, much work is still to be done if we are to provide the service the public rightly expect.
We note that there are no recommendations in this HMCPSI report but the focus of the National Disclosure Improvement Plan will be maintained and extended to ensure that activity by the police and CPS results in a cultural change at the operational level.
We have recently published the most recent NDIP Progress Report and will continue to publish regular updates on the disclosure improvement activity undertaken in furtherance of this plan.