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Monday, June 1, 1998 Published at 08:44 GMT 09:44 UK


"Criminal Protection Service"

The CPS was supposed to speed up the work of courts

The Crown Prosecution Service has been mired in controversy since it was set up in 1986.

The idea of an independent prosecuting service was recommended by the 1981 Royal Commission in Criminal Justice.

[ image:  ]
The Commission rejected the idea of a national body, but was ignored by the government.

When the CPS began work in December 1986 it immediately had problems of understaffing in its London headquarters.

It has also been severely criticised for some of the cases it has brought:

  • In 1996 legal costs of £100,000 were incurred after the case of an alleged robbery of 20p was brought to court.

  • In November 1997 CPS lawyer Penelope Scholfield admitted lying in court to protect her boyfriend, a police officer.

There have also been numerous accusations of inefficiency and low morale at the CPS.

[ image: Dame Barbera Mills is retiring early]
Dame Barbera Mills is retiring early
Dame Barbera Mills was appointed Director of Public Prosecutions in 1992 after her predecessor Sir Alan Green was caught kerb-crawling.

She is retiring early, having failed to shake the CPS up, but has denied that she is leaving because of the findings of the Glidewell report.

Nevertheless the Police Federation said it was "glad" she was going.

There has also been an ongoing problem of low morale at the CPS. A union-backed survey produced the lowest staff ratings recorded by MORI in 20 years of polling public and provate organisations.

A former senior prosecutor was once quoted: "Some time after leaving the CPS I read a book about the Soviet Union and experienced a sense of deja vu - the emphasis on achieving targets even if you had to fiddle the statistics and the need for obedience all the time."

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