Memorandum submitted by the Association
of Chief Police Officers
This paper is the Association of Chief Police
Officers response to the Justice Committee Inquiry into the Crown
Prosecution Service. In particular it addresses: "How the
CPS contributes to, and fits into the Criminal Justice System
and how does it relate to and share information with the police."
1. Lord Justice Auld's Review of the criminal
courts in England and Wales in 2001 recommended that the CPS should
determine the charge to be brought against a suspect in all but
minor routine cases, to ensure the charge was correct from the
outset, to weed out non-viable cases at an early stage and ensure
that remaining cases were ready for trial at the point of charge.
2. Following the Auld Review, new legislative
arrangements for statutory charging were introduced by the Criminal
Justice Act 2003, which shifted the responsibility for key charging
decisions from the police to the CPS by amending the Police and
Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (the Act).
3. This statutory charging initiative signified
a significant shift in the way in which Police and CPS worked
together, both at a local operational level and at a national
strategic level and signalled the start of the prosecution team
ethos between both agencies. It was a significant, unparalleled,
collaborative project between two organisations that historically
had not fully trusted each other.
4. Under the banner of the Prosecution Team
Change and Delivery Board (formally the Charging Operations Board)
senior representatives from ACPO and CPS have worked closely together,
supported by a joint team of operationally skilled area co-ordinators,
to introduce substantial change in business processes, and reaped
real and measurable benefits year on year during the course of
this journey. The membership of this board also consists of senior
members of HMCS, NPIA and Office of Criminal Justice Reform.
5. The joint Police/CPS `National Prosecution
Team' has continued to oversee and support the application of
Statutory Charging, and related reform initiatives impacting on
the start of the criminal justice process, including Conditional
Cautioning, Criminal Justice: Simple, Speedy, Summary (CJSSS),
and more recently, the Streamlined Process for magistrates court
6. By establishing the collaborative brand
of the National Prosecution Team, we have been extraordinarily
successful in changing entrenched working practices across both
police and CPS, and have overcome significant cultural hurdles
in both organisations to implement and operate new CJ initiatives
and improve performance.
7. Recommendation 22 of the Flanagan Report
recommended the need to ensure that targets and performance indicators
for the Police and CPS are brought into alignment and set against
the core objective of convicting the guilty. Following the publication
of the Flanagan Report in February 2008, urgent work was undertaken
by the National Prosecution Team in consultation with HO, NPIA
and AGO to align targets.
8. The Assessments of Policing and Community
Safety (APACS), the police performance framework, and the CPS
performance management framework have now been aligned around
the new Tier 1 and Tier 2 OBTJ rate measures. The broad Sanction
Detection rate has been subordinated within APACS to a diagnostic
measure, whilst the CPS has similarly decided to subordinate its
attrition and discontinuance targets to diagnostic measures, thus
removing the source of reported tension. As a result, both the
police and CPS are working to deliver the same outcomes; forces
and CPS areas are measured against the same performance indicators;
and both are working together as a prosecution team to detect
and bring to justice a greater proportion of serious crimes.
9. In November 2008, HMIC and HMCPSI published
their thematic review of charging. Whilst acknowledging the benefits
of the new charging arrangements, Inspectors made a number of
recommendations to substantially refine some aspects of the scheme,
particularly to provide investigators with more timely and proportionate
access to prosecutors; to address conflicting targets; and improve
10. PTPM is a joint process developed by
the Prosecution Team to support the application of the Statutory
Charging arrangements. It uses current data from the CPS Case
Management System (CMS) to monitor the throughput and outcomes
of cases passing through the charging centre into the criminal
justice system. A recent development has been to provide data
on improving the charge to non-prosecution rate, which is now
a new diagnostic measure within APACS.
11. Pursuing a recommendation contained
in the recent Joint Thematic Review of Charging, a project is
shortly to be launched to re-invigarate the PTPM process to assist
local police and CPS managers improve performance.
National Prosecution Team Projects
12. Detailed below are the key projects
the National Prosecution Team are committed to delivering.
13. The National Prosecution Team are developing
plans to Modernise Charging to improve and re-engineer the way
that Statutory charging is delivered to the police as well as
the use of telephony and IT based systems. This programme of work
takes forward the joint Inspectorates' recommendation to improve
access.Tests will commence in four Areas between November 2008
and April 2009. They will seek to introduce a more responsive
Statutory Charging service that guarantees direct 24/7 access
for Police Investigators to Duty Prosecutors.
14. The proposed solutions will deliver
Statutory Charging through a range of face to face, telephony
and electronic exchange methods depending on the type of casework
involved and seeks to improve:
15. The responsiveness/timeliness of Charging
to the police offering all Officers direct contact with
a Prosecutor at any time through an `always-on' service; face
to face meetings will be available in appropriate cases.
16. The quality of decision-enabling a proportionate
level of service, tailored to the type of crime and the decision
17. Productivityensuring the best
use and match of available Police Investigators and Duty Prosecutor
time on Statutory Charging
18. SP forms part of the overall CJSSS programme
of work. The Police Service had participated successfully in the
piloting and rollout of CJSSS during 2006/07 but recognised that
they did not have the resources to sustain their contribution
due to the amount of preparation required to enable the 1st hearing
to be effective. A key aim of SP is the reduction in time taken
to prepare a prosecution case file, freeing up officer time to
return to other duties. Under SP, proportionate and consistent
file preparation will produce a file which has sufficient information
to determine the appropriate charge; allow the defence to take
instructions and to enter a guilty plea if appropriate and for
the bench to understand the nature of the case and to assist in
either sentencing or case management where a not guilty plea is
19. The expected benefits from the Streamlined
20. A reduction in police officer and administrative
staff time taken to prepare a prosecution file.
21. Little or no detrimental impact on the
guilty plea rate at first hearing.
22. Little or no increase in the number
of adjournments before trial.
23. The Streamlined Process (SP) was developed
by the National Prosecution Team following short pilots of similar
arrangements in London and Gloucestershire under a Quick Process
scheme in 2007. SP, which is a refinement of the original Quick
Process scheme commenced in Spring 08 in seven test Areas. Full
coverage is now in place three of these Test Areas (including
London) and plans are now well established for SP to be introduced
fully across the remaining Basic Command Units (BCUs) in the four
remaining Test Areas.
24. The Virtual Court couples video-conferencing
and electronic document management to directly link police custody
suites with magistrates' courts for first hearings. London CJB
ran a prototype Virtual Court in the summer of 2007 at Camberwell
Green which was judged a success by an independent evaluation
and demonstrated the potential to reducing the time by which a
first hearing can be taken to an average of 3-4 hours from time
25. A national pilot of the Virtual Court
model has been agreed. The pilot sites will be London and Kent.
Both pilot sites are expected to commence in March 2009, but this
is subject to procurement time scales around the technical aspects.
26. The London pilot will cover the central
and south east areas and will run for 12 months. The Kent pilot
will cover the Medway area and will also run for 12 months.