The Crown Prosecution Service: Gatekeeper of the Criminal Justice System - Justice Committee Contents

Supplementary memorandom submitted by Nicola Padfield, Senior Lecturer, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge


  The Rt Hon Alun Michael asked me to illustrate my concern that "managerialist" targets can get in the way of "due process". We discussed briefly the implications of the CPS becoming both decision maker and advocate, and the definition of "unsuccessful outcomes". Perhaps I can develop the examples. At a PCMH there is often one CPS prosecutor dealing with all the cases in the list. He or she is unlikely to be the trial advocate, and is in a difficult position to make decisions (contrary to the system being set up for defence counsel in the graduated fee structure, which seeks to get trial counsel at the PCMH so that more issues can be resolved earlier). A different example: some CPS units tend not to brief out cases until late in the day (where, for example, no pleas have been forthcoming, or difficult issues have arisen). This means that the more difficult cases reach trial advocates rather late. More research could be done on whether the increased pressure on CPS reviewing lawyers to act as advocates may mean they have inadequate time to do the work of what was traditionally that of "instructing solicitors". And I mentioned in my written evidence that targets on "direct communication with victims" could potentially distort decision-making (an example might be fatal driving accidents?). All areas for research, not ready answers.

  I mentioned in oral evidence Judge Denyer's article at [2008] Crim LR 784. A senior circuit judge, he discusses the problem that, when the parties fail to comply with pre-trial orders,there is often no appropriate sanction. He gives many examples of prosecution failures: on disclosure: Phillips [2007] EWCA Crim 1042; in drip feeding additional evidence: Owens [2006] EWCA Crim 2206, where approximately two weeks before the trial (and long after the 21 days which had been specified by the judge) the prosecution served further witness statements and exhibits which ultimately led to the disclosure of about 7,000 pages of unused material. Not surprisingly, the defence objected and wanted the evidence excluded. The judge refused. His refusal was not a successful ground of appeal. And then there are the huge numbers of late applications to admit bad character or hearsay. Whether these arise from a failure to take the Criminal Procedure Rules seriously, or because of other pressures, managerialist and/or budgetary, on CPS prosecutors needs, I think, to be explored.

Nicola Padfield

Senior Lecturer, Law Faculty, University of Cambridge

29 January 2009

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2009
Prepared 6 August 2009