Prosecutors rated ‘below standard’

INSPECTORS have rated West Yorkshire Crown Prosecution Service as performing below the expected level.

A report by HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate deemed West Yorkshire prosecutors’ decision-making as poor, their casework quality poor and their efficiency as only fair.

Governance was rated as good and serious and complex casework was “generally handled well” but overall West Yorkshire CPS was assessed as “below the expected standard”.

Inspectors said in “too many cases there was a lack of considered analysis” by lawyers, resulting in cases being needlessly delayed or collapsing at a late stage – wasting time and costs.

It said: “There has been a tendency to focus on processing high numbers of cases at speed; this has often been to the detriment of quality”.

The report also said crime victims and witnesses were not consistently given the service they deserve.

They concluded CPS West Yorkshire needs to “urgently review” its case progression systems and improve decision-making standards.

In response to the report, Martin Goldman, chief crown prosecutor of CPS Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “I accept that the report is an honest and accurate assessment of our position at the time of the inspection conducted in February and March this year.

“However, much has changed since then.

“While I recognise the need to improve, it’s also important to recognise that many of our outcomes are higher than the national average.

“We’ve now introduced a number of measures to improve quality and efficiency.

“We have introduced rigorous checks and feedback to all staff to ensure we learn lessons and improve wherever possible.”

He said all four counties of Yorkshire and Humberside were now working together, allowing centralisation of key functions including finance and performance.

“We’re also working closely with the police and the courts to identify and remove any inefficiency from our joint systems.”