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Monday, June 1, 1998 Published at 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK


Reforms for prosecution service

The report judges that the CPS has failed in its mission

The Crown Prosecution Service is to undergo a major shake-up in line with the recommendations set out in a highly-critical report about its performance.

The Former Appeal Court judge Sir Iain Glidewell has concluded that the CPS has not achieved the improvements in effectiveness and efficiency of the prosecution process that were expected when it was set up in 1986.

His report follows less than a fortnight after Dame Barbara Mills announced she would be stepping down early as the Director of Public Prosecutions, before the end of her contract next year.

'A matter for concern'

Sir Iain wrote that it was "clearly a matter for concern" that one in eight suspects charged by police later had their cases thrown out by the CPS.

"Our assessment of the CPS is that it has the potential to become a lively, successful and esteemed part of the criminal justice system, but that, sadly, none of these adjectives applied to the service as a whole at present," the report said.

It added that when the CPS was set up it was understaffed and many staff had "inadequate training and preparation".

After a series of reorganisations, including a major one a year after Dame Barbara took charge in 1992, the service became "too centralised and bureaucratic".

Administrative staff outnumbered lawyers by two to one, and "most senior lawyers are now expected to devote the majority of their time to management".

The report revealed the top 400 of the 2,000 CPS lawyers spent less than a third of their time on casework and advocacy.

Structural reorganisation

The Attorney General John Morris told the House of Commons that the report set out an agenda for a less centralised organisation "with lawyers spending less time on management and more time on prosecuting".

He said the core proposal, a national headquarters setting clear standards and policies but with implementation achieved by local organisations enjoying real autonomy, was fully in line with the government's approach.

Mr Morris said the report endorsed the government's decision to reorganise the CPS from 13 geographical areas into 42, coinciding with police force boundaries. It proposed that each area would be headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor.

New chief executive

The Attorney General said a new post of chief executive would be appointed to take over the administration and running of the service, leaving the DPP to concentrate on the core work of prosecution decisions and policy.

Mr Morris confirmed the first chief executive would be Mark Addison, who will take up the post within days.

The report recommended the CPS should take over the prosecution of a case immediately after a defendant was charged.

This and other innovative proposals would need to be considered with special care, said Mr Morris.

He paid "warm tribute" to Dame Barbara, who has insisted that her decision to go early had nothing to do with the imminent publication of the report. But BBC correspondents say Sir Iain's damning conclusions would have made her position untenable.

The report says that some changes made during Dame Barbara's time in charge have been "well intentioned, but mistaken".

The Shadow Attorney General Sir Nicholas Lyell stressed the need for continuing strong and powerful leadership at the CPS headquarters and said the organisation would need adequate resourcing to finance the Government's plans.

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