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Crown Prosecution Service criticised for case handling

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Thames Valley’s CPS has been criticised for the way it handled a sample of cases last year.

Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) found examples of CPS Thames Valley prosecutors trying to continue cases which should not have been charged and problems processing cases efficiently in readiness for magistrates’ court trials.

The inspection looked closely at the performance of the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) Thames Valley unit and analysed the causes for its record of poor legal decisions, weak case progression and low rate of successful outcomes.

The investigation was prompted by the Inspectorate’s 2012 Annual Case Examination Programme (ACEP) where some Thames Valley prosecution case files showed weaknesses in decision making at charging stage and at subsequent case review.

HM Chief Inspector, Michael Fuller QPM, said: “This is a pivotal time for the Area. There are encouraging signs that the unit’s managers understand the underlying issues and are now beginning to tackle individual performance in a more robust manner, but this has to become accepted practice across the board and not just an exceptional course.”

Staff performance management was also judged to be a key issue. The inspection concluded much greater attention must be paid to individual performance management. There are encouraging signs that the unit’s managers understand the underlying issues of weak or inconsistent performance management and are now beginning to tackle individual performance in a more robust manner.

Other findings saw that Thames Valley has worked to improve case listing arrangements in the magistrates’ court in the past 18 months but considerable backlogs remain and the processing of Crown Court casework has improved more recently.

 

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