Supplementary memorandum submitted by
the Public and Commercial Services Union
FURTHER WRITTEN SUBMISSION TO THE JUSTICE
COMMITTEE INQUIRY ON THE WORK OF THE CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE
1. This further written submission seeks
to clarify and expand on some of the issues raised in our initial
submission (October 2008) to the inquiry and expands on up some
of the points made in live evidence by PCS and other witnesses
on 3 February 2009. This further submission covers:
How the CPS contributes to and fits into
the Criminal Justice System and whether it is providing a timely
and consistent service across the country.
How effectively the CPS operate and serves
its customershow does it communicate with victims and witnesses.
CPS CONTRIBUTES AND
2. While we recognise the undoubted good
work done on many levels by the voluntary sector PCS feels that
this has blurred the lines of role, responsibility and governance
in respect of victim and witness care. In many parts of the country,
this has caused concern and anxiety among CPS caseworkers and
at times a degree of friction.
3. We believe this problem is exacerbated
in many Crown Court centres by the lack of "one to one"
court coverage by CPS caseworker, who can be expected to cover
between two to four courts over the course of a session. This
has been caused by under resourcing and we believe can only get
worse as budgets are cut due to the comprehensive spending review
4. The work undertaken by Victim Support
includes witness care in the Crown and Magistrates' Courts. Witness
care and support in the Crown Court was previously undertaken
solely by Crown Court Caseworkers, formerly known as `Law Clerks'
(of whom PCS have sole recognition for consultation and collective
bargaining purposes) and this is still a key role in a significant
number of court centres.
5. The prosecution advocate (whether a CPS
High Court Advocate or employed Barrister) has a key role in explaining
the outcome of a case or consultation over the acceptance of a
plea to a lesser charge or the offering of no evidence with reference
to the pledge.
Integrated prosecution teams
6. PCS are still very concerned about adequate
resourcing of the Integrated Prosecution Team (IPT) project. It
is one of three issues still on the project risk register within
7. We are aware that there has also been
no involvement from the activity based costing team in the evaluation
of the new working arrangements. We would therefore conclude that
no proper measure of what extra work the CPS has taken from the
Metropolitan Police has been undertaken and would recommend the
committee pursue this with CPS management urgently.
8. Anecdotal evidence to support our view
that co-location is placing an added and unbearable level of stress
on our staff includes:
Four PCS grades are presently on long
term sick leave from IPT sites.
Two experienced caseworkers have recently
tendered their resignations, one specifically because of the increasing
demands being placed on their unit.
One member disclosed there were increasing
tensions in their office, with a breakdown in working relationships
between some lawyers and police officers.
Rises in cases of work related stress,
see para 26 for more details.
9. The work stress audits (using the Health
and Safety Executive model) conducted at the initial IPT pilot
sites revealed a need for management to take urgent action, however
we have seen little evidence of this.
10. In a recent communication to staff in
West Yorkshire, the Area Business Manager has confirmed the decision
of the Area Board to relocate from police premises. A letter from
the Chief Crown Prosecutor to the Chief Constable states that
the co-location model cannot continue due to a lack of resources
provided to CPS, which in itself has had considerable impact upon
11. The economies of scale that exist in
large CPS only offices enables operations to continue even if
staff are absent due to annual leave, training and sickness. We
strongly believe that the move to co-location across the whole
of London needs to be seen in this context and not through management's
narrow focus of making efficiency savings by decreasing accommodation
THE CPS OPERATES
12. The points below look at our concerns
in relation to how effective the CPS operates and serves its customers,
Victims and witness concerns.
Effects on Areasresources and
CPS staff attitudinal survey 2008.
CPS Groups and Group Operation Centres,
their remit and whether they are effective.
Is the CPS an employer of choice, including
equality concerns and whether the CPS is a world class service.
13. Some of the concerns expressed by Mind
and Victim Support in their evidence session (3 February 2009)
are also supported and shared by PCS, namely about the prosecutor's
pledge. We concur that there is inconsistency across the country
on how this is applied, which PCS see as a result of individual
Area's autonomy on how they choose to operate.
14. The preparation and application for
"special measures" is one of a number of functions that
are being passed from Lawyers to Caseworkers. Again the autonomy
enjoyed by each Area means that caseworkers in some Areas have
already been responsible for preparing and submitting such applications,
whereas others haven't.
15. The capacity for CPS to cater for victims
and witness needs at court is limited by resources, for instance
caseworkers in London and a number of other CPS Areas regularly
have more than two or three court rooms to cover. As a consequence,
there is little effective monitoring of how prosecutors exert
a duty of care in relation to witnesses being cross examined,
as there is not often a CPS caseworker in court to observe.
Witness Care Units (WCUs)
16. These are teams of a mixture of CPS
and police civilian staff, who are responsible for ensuring victims
and witnesses are warned to attend court in good time. Any necessary
special measures are put in place and in the case of victims,
are notified as a result of the case.
17. Although there are a small number of
exceptions, we find that the majority of WCU's are staffed by
a significantly higher ratio of police civilians and very occasionally
officers on "light duties". As the job description of
the CPS and police witness care officer is identical (despite
our objections), the reality is that we have two sets of workers
on significantly different terms and conditions of service doing
the same job. This can cause tensions, which would be avoidable
if a distinction between the CPS and police civilian staff roles
were to be established, in the job descriptions and functions
of the role.
18. In addition to operational issues this
has also caused disharmony in relation to HR management practices
of the respective staff, where our members, more often as the
minority group, feel pressured to work to the same or similar
terms and conditions as police colleagues. We consider this unjust,
unfair and unsustainable.
19. Following a communication from the CPS
finance director, we are deeply concerned about the following:
43 jobs have already been lost in CPS
A further nine will be gone by April
2009, another ten by April 2010, and a further eight by April
2011. The overall headcount reduction by 2011 is therefore 70,
or almost 11% of the HQ workforce (excluding the casework directorate).
20. With respect to future cuts, the finance
directorate has stated that it needs further information from
the Attorney General's office on whether and to what extent the
CPS will have to contribute to further efficiency savings in addition
to those mentioned above, within the same timeframe (ie by 2011).
Effects upon Areasresources and targets
21. We do not as yet have any accurate data
on the overall headcount reduction in Areas that have occurred
as a consequence of budget reductions and so we are unsure what
impact this is having on service delivery. We fully expect a further
deterioration in the timeliness of the preparation and service
of case papers and responses to Judge's orders. We would recommend
the committee seeks further information on this to determine what
reductions there have been in each CPS Area and what impact this
is having on the service the CPS provides.
22. PCS notes that financial delegation
has been withdrawn from most staff in London, with other Areas
expecting to follow suit. Authorisation now has to be sought for
any casework expenditure such as the payment of ordinary witness
expenses, (including hotel accommodation and travel), interpreter
expenses and expert witness expenses. In effect, introducing a
new level of bureaucracy that is not resourced and will have a
significant impact upon already demoralised and overworked staff.
CPS staff attitudinal survey 2008
23. Despite the results of the survey being
published and widely available for some months we have seen no
clear plans by the CPS on how to take the issues forward. These
are the worst results in the ten year history of the bi-annual
24. We have attempted to gain meaningful
equalities and demographic data from the raw data of the survey,
but have so far failed.
25. Below are some of the CPS results of
notable concern to us. We have demonstrated how far they fall
below the government benchmark target (ie from attitudinal surveys
across the civil service).
reaction to the amount of pressure placed
on staff26% below benchmark;
recommendation of CPS as a great place
to work17% below benchmark;
satisfaction on opportunities for personal
development15% below benchmark;
satisfaction with physical working conditions13%
confidence to speak up and challenge
decisions13% below benchmark;
treatment by the organisation (fairness
and respect)13% below benchmark;
motivation by managers12% below
feeling valued12% below benchmark;
sufficient staff to get the work done10%
effective leadership by senior managers8%
effective management of change8%
fair pay8% below benchmark; and
sense of personal accomplishment in the
job7% below benchmark.
Work related stress
26. A more detailed analysis of the results
of our last work stress audit, using the Health and Safety Executive
(HSE) management standards model, indicate that the root causes
for the unprecedented high levels of work related stress within
the organisation are caused by:
Demands: Conflicting demands, unachievable
deadlines, over-intensive working and unrealistic time pressures.
Control: Lack of control over own work
speed and style, insufficient variety of work and inflexible working
practices and insufficient choice of duties.
Support: Insufficient encouragement from
management, lack of supportive feedback and a lack of support
through emotionally demanding work.
Relationships: Bullying at work prevalent
and strained working relationships (internally and externally).
Role: Unclear expectations, unclear roles
and responsibilities, unclear goals and objectives and a lack
of understanding of how role fits into wider organisation.
Change: No opportunity to question managers
on changes at work, lack of consultation and no clarity of how
change will affect the job holder.
27. Additional pressure is also being placed
on crown prosecutors and associate prosecutors through work rotas.
Court deployments are often applied inflexibly and the effect
is a long hours culture, as these staff have to find time to review
and prepare files for court with little or no time spent in the
28. PCS believes that increased levels of
court attendance should be matched with an increase in staffing
numbers to ensure we give a better level of service to victims
29. In general terms, the CPS group of PCS
welcomes the positive steps taken in 2008 to secure better industrial
relations. This included the development of the employee relations
framework agreement, which set out guidance and best practice
in how the respective parties engage, share information, consult
and where appropriate negotiate changes to terms and conditions
of service. However, Areas are often left to their own devices
and different practices develop across the 42 Areas. We believe
that a lack of central control has also let poor practices develop.
30. In addition, the development of the
security in employment protocol agreement showed a positive commitment
to staff about their ongoing employment and strengthened as far
as possible the security of our jobs.
31. We hope that the positive way we have
worked together to develop these agreements will form a firm basis
for improved working relations on a local Area and workplace level.
CPS Groups and Group Operation Centres (GOCs)
32. Rather than bare the cost of placing
a distinct and separate middle management tier between the 42
Area senior management teams of Chief Crown Prosecutors and Area
Business Managers, management instead "upgraded" the
roles in one identified lead Area within each Group.
33. In terms of governance this was perceived
as a way of regaining some central control lost some time ago
with minimal cost to the organisation (as the middle management
tier would retain leadership of their own Areas). This was in
addition to cutting costs for central service delivery (eg facilities
management, procurement and health and safety).
Remit and effectiveness of the GOCs
34. As the GOCs become more established,
issues have arisen over governance on local CPS Area HR management
policies; such as flexible working hours, sickness absence reporting
and even the management and interpretation of national HR policies.
35. The biggest concern to PCS in the GOC
is that there is currently no recognised collective bargaining
process (Whitley Council) in place to mirror and support the new
Group structure. We are therefore left consulting and attempting
to negotiate at Area level on policies and directives put in place
at GOC level.
Is the CPS an employer of choice?
36. Of all staff, prosecutors and especially
caseworkers in the frontline hold views that are generally the
most negative about the organisationin relation to resources,
management, opportunities, fair and respectful treatment, change,
pay and reward and stress. Only 26% of caseworkers would recommend
the CPS as a great place to work.
37. The CPS states that it is committed
to working on diversity and equality issues in relation to the
communities that it serves. The staff survey shows that just 32%
feel it is safe to speak up and challenge the way things are done.
We strongly believe this indicates there is much work to be done
38. The last CPS equalities in employment
report is dated 20052006, which in itself should be a cause
for concern. Page 83 of the report reveals that of 40 equality
complaints submitted, 23 were ongoing, eight were not upheld and
just two were upheld (two were withdrawn and five were deemed
not to disclose equality issues).
Is the CPS a world class service?
39. PCS believes in order for the CPS to
become a world class service an urgent review of its funding is
required. The present requirements to make efficiency savings
will inevitably result in a deteriorating level of service, which
in turn will impact negatively upon public confidence.
40. We believe it is a mistake to have a
criminal justice system so heavily biased on the issue of policing
and that there must be sufficient investment in staff in other
justice agencies (CPS included). By way of illustration, Hackney
borough (London) has 700 CID and Police Officers and 70 Police
Community Support Officers to process over 10,000 arrested defendants,
yet the CPS IPT unit was down to just three caseworkers, each
with a caseload of over 100 Crown Court cases.
41. Our evidence demonstrates that the CPS
urgently needs to review its funding in order to address many
of the concerns we have regarding co-location, having enough staff
to provide a proper service to victims and witnesses, reducing
staff stress and dispensing justice effectively.
42. As we have outlined above many of our
members are working in very stressed environments, however they
feel if their concerns are addressed and adequate resources provided
they would be working for an employer of choice. Our members are
committed to working with CPS management to address these concerns
so they can deliver an effective service to the public and make
the CPS a world class service.