CPS Response to An inspection of the operation of CPS and SFO Proceeds of Crime Divisions
Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) has today, 22 July, issued a report following their Inspection of the operation of CPS and SFO Proceeds of Crime Divisions.
The overall aims of the report are to examine how effective and efficient both CPS Proceeds of Crime Division and SFO Proceeds of Crime and International Assistance Division are in identifying and progressing restraint and confiscation casework and, in particular, whether it is possible to identify aspects of good practice within one organisation which are transferable to the other.
We note that Inspectors found that the staff in both Divisions were professional and very capable, highly motivated and with considerable skill, knowledge of and commitment to the work of their respective organisations.
We are also pleased that Inspectors recognised that CPS uses restraint and confiscation strategy documents to build strong cases and to maintain efficient case progression. Inspectors also noted that we proactively engage with partners to achieve appropriate solutions and went on to highlight specific aspects of good practice.
We do, however, also accept the recommendations made in this report and are committed to taking action to address the points raised.
The CPS should formally consider whether the CPS Proceeds of Crime Division continues to deal with all the CPS Areas’ confiscation casework.
CPS Response: From 1 October 2020 CPS Proceeds of Crime (CPS POC) Division has been assisting the 14 CPS Areas by handling all confiscation casework. We agree that it would be appropriate to undertake a review of this temporary approach as part of our future planning strategy.
Inspectorate’s issues to address for the CPS
Issue: CPS Proceeds of Crime Division senior managers should ensure that instructions to counsel are prepared in all relevant confiscation cases.
CPS Response: We will refresh instructions for managers and staff to ensure that this is understood and acted upon in appropriate cases.
Issue: The CPS Proceeds of Crime Division should ensure that staff across the division can develop their skills by attending a range of stakeholder engagement meetings
CPS Response: We will review the way in which we manage stakeholder meetings, to increase the opportunities for staff in the Division to develop stakeholder engagement expertise.
CPS Proceeds of Crime Division restraint strategy documents and confiscation strategy documents are used effectively in the CPS POC Division to devise strategy, review and build cases, and maintain efficient case progression.
CPS Proceeds of Crime Division engages well with parties to proceedings, respond professionally and proactively seek robust and appropriate solutions to issues between the prosecution and defence.
Inspectorate’s Good Practice
The CPS bi-monthly caselaw bulletin, which is circulated within and outside CPS Proceeds of Crime Division, is widely respected and a useful update on proceeds of crime.
CPS individual learning accounts enable staff to use their budgets for their own training or to pool budgets to obtain group training where is it needed.
CPS Proceeds of Crime Pre-Enforcement South team holds daily clinics with a duty lawyer available for police forces to seek advice on restraint applications, which has improved operational relationships and built a better standard of police formal statements in support of applications.