CPS response to the HMICFRS/HMCPSI joint thematic inspection report in relation to Crimes Against Older People
HMICFRS/HMCPSI have today [17 July 2019] published a joint report into the work of the police, and the CPS, in relation to Crimes Against Older People (CAOP).
We welcome this fair and balanced report. We acknowledge the importance of ensuring older people are fully supported by the Criminal Justice System and have recently published our updated policy and legal guidance on Crimes Against Older People. The revised policy was developed with support from community partners, police and academics with experience in this field and was also subject to a public consultation.
We are keen to continue improving in this area and will work with our partners in the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing, to reassure older victims of crime that their needs will be taken into account.
We look forward to working with the police as they develop guidance for officers. We will work with them to discuss and agree a joint definition for crimes against older people.
We are pleased that Inspectors acknowledged that 100% of cases they looked at were compliant with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and that they have recognised the work that is already underway to ensure that our reviews are clearly structured to take account of considerations relating to older victims.
We accept that outdated sections of our special measures guidance need to be updated to reflect current practice, ensure that we record all relevant information in relation to the needs of victims and witnesses, and in a more consistent manner. We will also ensure that crimes against older people are routinely incorporated into local scrutiny panels, in order that we critically examine relevant cases and learn from them.
Inspectorate’s Recommendations for CPS
- Within six months, the NPCC lead for adults at risk and the CPS should agree a joint and simple definition of what constitutes an older victim, and take a coordinated approach to understand and respond to the problem.
This recommendation is accepted. We have published a revised policy on Crimes Against Older People (COAP) following wide engagement with stakeholders and a formal public consultation. This includes a revised CPS flagging definition of CAOP. If the NPCC accepts this recommendation we will work with them to build on this and agree a joint approach.
- Within six months, the CPS should review its guidance about special measures. The CPS should also work with the College of Policing and the NPCC, so that special measures meetings are offered to victims and witnesses when appropriate.
This recommendation is accepted. We have revised and published new guidance on all special measures. The separate issue of when it is appropriate to offer a meeting to victims and witnesses to discuss special measures is under review. The CPS will work with the police to highlight special measures best practice, particularly with respect to victims and witnesses with the greatest needs.
- Within three months, the CPS should remind prosecutors to record that a restraining order has been considered in all appropriate cases.
This recommendation is accepted. We have highlighted the need to consider the full range of relevant ancillary orders (including restraining orders) in our revised policy on CAOP. We will remind all prosecutors of that immediately and will review opportunities in our training programmes to draw further focus to the issue.
- Within six months, CPS Areas should put in place effective monitoring arrangements so that cases involving older people are accurately identified and prosecuted in accordance with updated policy and guidance.
This recommendation is accepted. Our revised CAOP policy includes a new definition we will use to identify or ‘flag’ these cases. We already have monitoring arrangements in place for CAOP cases as part of our hate crime assurance scheme. This scheme will be amended to monitor compliance with the revised definition. It will also bring CAOP formally into our Area Performance Review (APR) process.
- Within six months, the CPS should assure itself that prosecutors consistently provide clear instructions on the prosecution file as to a victim’s entitlements under the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime. The instructions should be recorded on the charging advice form in CPS charged cases, and at the initial review in police charged cases.
This recommendation is accepted. We have updated the Review Screen on our Case Management System (CMS). This requires prosecutors to consider key issues in their review including considerations relating to victim and witness needs, trial issues, special measures, intermediaries, and interpreters. Overseen by our Compliance and Assurance Team, we will monitor national compliance with this new process through a file sampling exercise and make recommendations for any further action or assurance work, as necessary.
- Within six months, the CPS should assure itself that prosecutors consistently record special measures entitlements on the relevant pre-charge advice form. Prosecutors should also be reminded to record on the file review that special measures meetings have been considered when appropriate.
This recommendation is accepted. See 5.
- Within six months, the CPS should assure itself that prosecutors consistently include all relevant information about the victim as an older victim in the instructions to court prosecutors.
This recommendation is accepted. See 5.
- Within three months, the CPS should consider whether crimes against older people should routinely be incorporated into local scrutiny panels.
This recommendation is accepted. We will instruct Areas to include CAOP in the list of casework types to be examined at Local Scrutiny Panels.
- Within three months, the CPS should clarify that the lead for hate crime includes responsibility for crimes against older people.
This recommendation is accepted. Our Chief Crown Prosecutor national lead for Hate Crime will also become a national lead for CAOP. We will ensure this is accurately reflected in CPS publications and our hate crime report.