Friday, March 16, 2012

CPS Under The Microscope

HM CPS Inspectorate published a less than flattering report on the London CPS last year and have followed up with another look at it: this is the press release, and the full report is here. It is over 100 pages long so I have not read it in detail, but a quick scan suggests that CPS in-house advocates in the Crown Court are not well thought of, and those who toil in the grubby end of the trade in front of magistrates aren't too impressive either. The CPS tries to avoid briefing the Bar these days, for cost reasons, and I am sorry to say that a significant proportion of the prosecutors who appear before me are of poor quality. The Associate Prosecutors, qualified to a lower standard, and with limited authority to make decisions, come out of the report quite well by contrast. Our most prominent local AP was looking very pleased with himself yesterday - so much so that he pointed me in the direction of the report when I saw him in the lobby.


  1. Andrew has commented:-

    As a very recently former-CPS in-house Crown Court advocate, I'd like to defend my colleagues. The Key Findings state that, "the basic competence of in-house advocates appearing regularly has improved as their exposure to Crown Court practice has increased, and there has been some improvement in crown advocate ability in discrete areas of trial advocacy. In particular, crown advocates have become better at conducting cross-examination, and there is now less criticism of individual crown advocates from the judiciary and the Bar". The principle sources of the current concerns seem to be the costs-driven nature of advocacy within the CPS (meaning that individual advocates have to take on a greater number of cases with an unsurprising drop in quality of presentation), as well as a failure of management to address problems with pre-trial case preparation, all concerns that have been perfectly obvious to those of us working at the coal face of prosecution for many years.

  2. Andrew I agree. Clearly the blogger cannot read reports. Simple point really, more briefs to prepare last minute means serious drop in advocacy. Pre trial case preparation is the key to good advocacy. This is true in Magistrates Courts aswell. No amount of experience as a Magistrates Prosecutor or a CA in the Crown Courts is a substitute for pre-trial preparation or even a pre- remand file preparation. Each case has its individual features which have to be absorbed and properly digested and reflected upon-- all this takes time. Badly prepared briefs and even no briefs means that the CA is doing the job of collating the data and then preparing it in a space of a few minutes sometimes. I would describe the CPS prosecutors as the back bone of the criminal justice system that has not yet failed and will remain at the forefront of the system delivering justice despite cut backs and savings driven regime. CPS prosecutors in courts are fire fighting and providing first aid in some cases due to cut backs and savings regime. I suspect even a Silk would under perform in these circumstances of cut backs and savings regime. Quite frankly not many lawyers would be able to deliver justice the way CPS prosecutors do in the current climate. So CPS prosecutors deserve a round of applause in the circumstances.


Posts are pre-moderated. Please bear with us if this takes a little time, but the number of bores and obsessives was getting out of hand, as were the fake comments advertising rubbish.