Page last updated at 00:52 GMT, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Inspectors condemn London's Crown Prosecution Service

Judge's gavel
Inspectors said 'initiative overload' came from CPS managers

Chronic failings within the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in London have been exposed in a damning report.

Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMcpsi) found some prosecutors neglected their core duties of bringing criminals before courts.

Crown court results in London were "substantially worse" than the national average, the report said.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said he was aware that CPS London needed to perform better.

He said: "I am fully aware that CPS London needs to perform much better than it does now and making that happen is a process which I will be closely involved with."

'Initiative overload'

The report found more cases were dropped either before or during trial in London than the rest of England and Wales.

It said defendants in the capital were more likely to walk free because their case was dropped than to be found not guilty by a jury.

Such were the failings uncovered, that a full inspection of the London area was left incomplete, the HMcpsi said.

Of the 20 out of 33 boroughs that were examined only one was rated good, with seven fair and 12 poor, the lowest standard.

The capital is the largest CPS area and handles nearly one in five of all prosecution cases in England and Wales.

Rape prosecutions were 15% below the rest of the country, according to the report.

The inspectors said "initiative overload" came from CPS managers and central government, including 10 Downing Street.

'Worrying' findings

Major questions were also raised by the HMcpsi about specialist or "champion prosecutors" who are supposed to deal with high profile crimes such as rape.

In some areas these were "little more than a title" and "did not lead to a premium service", the report said.

A strategy for tackling violence against women was treated simply as a "restatement" of existing priorities, the report said.

Case work involving the most high profile crimes going to the Old Bailey was praised, but preparation of routine crown court cases displayed a "lack of intellectual rigour", the report said.

Cases were often ignored until a few days before the start of court proceedings before being addressed.

And gathering evidence was regarded as "bureaucracy" instead of an essential part of the prosecution process, leading to delays in approaching witnesses.

Ch Insp Stephen Wooler said the findings were "disappointing and worrying".



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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Lancaster Guardian Inspectors condemn CPS - 12 hrs ago
London Evening Standard Criminals allowed to walk free: Report blasts London CPS for incompetence - 15 hrs ago
The Independent Inspectors condemn failings in London CPS - 19 hrs ago
Telegraph Rape victims failed by London prosecutors - 20 hrs ago
Times Online CPS failures leads to defendants avoiding trial - 27 hrs ago


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