CPS slammed over high number of "unsuccessful outcomes" in Dorset cases

Bournemouth Crown Court

Bournemouth Crown Court

First published in News by , Chief Reporter

THE Crown Prosecution Service has been slammed in a government report over the number of Dorset cases it fails to secure convictions in.

A report by Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate found that the former CPS unit of Dorset had a higher number of “unsuccessful outcomes” – any case which, after charge, does not result in either a guilty plea or a conviction – than the national average.

Inspectors found that reasons included poor charging decisions by the police, especially around motoring matters. The report said that prosecutors were discontinuing cases but not telling the police what was needed to secure a conviction.

There was also evidence of some CPS decisions to discontinue that were “not as robust as they should have been”.

The report highlights “poor decision making” and found that although monitoring of unsuccessful outcomes was carried out, there was “little evidence in Dorset of it being used as an aid to improving performance”.

It also said that some lawyers were discontinuing cases rather than risking acquittal.

HM Chief Inspector Michael Fuller QPM said: “This report has highlighted a number of significant issues in the CPS unit in Dorset, not least an over-cautious culture and an inadequate level of scrutiny.

“My inspectors remain concerned that the weak decision making of some lawyers will become diluted amongst the wider area caseload. I hope that the CPS will act quickly on the recommendations in the report and that improvements are soon evident.”

Kate Brown, chief crown prosecutor for the CPS in Wessex, said that the review was carried out while CPS Dorset was being merged with Hampshire, Wiltshire and the Isle of Wight to form CPS Wessex.

She said that regular reviews had been put in place to scrutinise unsuccessful outcomes.

“The Bournemouth office that HMCPSI visited closed on November, 15, 2013. At the time the Inspectorate visited this office, our process and ways of working were going through radical changes.

“The Bournemouth office was part of CPS Dorset, which with CPS Hampshire and Isle of Wight and Wiltshire merged into one Area CPS Wessex in 2011. Since then, we have undertaken a huge amount of work to ensure that throughout these three counties, the service that we deliver is consistent.”

She added that the period of upheaval had impacted on the feedback it had been able to give police, but said: “However, I am confident that now that we have completed the refocusing and re-structure of CPS Wessex that we will become more resilient and will be able to deliver a more efficient and effective service to the public we serve.”

THE report made the following recommendations:

Feedback should be provided to the police on police charge cases that are discontinued, identifying reasons for the discontinuance.

The area needs to ensure there is effective regular monitoring by senior management of discontinued cases and that lessons learned and trends identified are acted upon.

The area should consider reinstating Prosecution Team Performance Management meetings with the police.

Comments (5)

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8:19am Wed 30 Apr 14

whataboutthat says...

Perhaps when th epolice arrest soembody they should procure better evidence in order to aid the CPS in their prosecutions?
Perhaps when th epolice arrest soembody they should procure better evidence in order to aid the CPS in their prosecutions? whataboutthat
  • Score: 4

9:03am Wed 30 Apr 14

LawabidingEnglishman says...

The issue here is that the thresshold for prosecution is set too low, therefore cases do not come to court soon enough, and when 'low-priority' crimes do come to court, it takes two days of a courts time to hear both prosectuion and defence. Followed by however long for the jury to consider the verdict. In my case it took 18 months for a case to come to court, one and a half days of trial followed by 10 mintues for the jury to retire, elect a foreman, and return to fine me NOT GUILTY! It was the quickest unaminous verdict the Judge, and both Barristers had seen. The Prosecution Barrister was embarrased he let it go on. It cost me £7,000 in legal fees of which I only got £6,000 back. A COMPLETE waste of my time, the courts time and UK Taxpayers money (and mine) that should have been spent elsewhere.
The issue here is that the thresshold for prosecution is set too low, therefore cases do not come to court soon enough, and when 'low-priority' crimes do come to court, it takes two days of a courts time to hear both prosectuion and defence. Followed by however long for the jury to consider the verdict. In my case it took 18 months for a case to come to court, one and a half days of trial followed by 10 mintues for the jury to retire, elect a foreman, and return to fine me NOT GUILTY! It was the quickest unaminous verdict the Judge, and both Barristers had seen. The Prosecution Barrister was embarrased he let it go on. It cost me £7,000 in legal fees of which I only got £6,000 back. A COMPLETE waste of my time, the courts time and UK Taxpayers money (and mine) that should have been spent elsewhere. LawabidingEnglishman
  • Score: 2

9:54am Wed 30 Apr 14

Azphreal says...

A friend of mine was arrested because someone had said they had commited a crime (they had not) as an attack against them,there was no evidence at all but they were charged from the off. What are the CPS supposed to do in a case like that? The POLICE have charged the person with no evidence to back up the charge,are the CPS going to say 'Oh we have no evidence it was them but lets send them to court anyway'?
A friend of mine was arrested because someone had said they had commited a crime (they had not) as an attack against them,there was no evidence at all but they were charged from the off. What are the CPS supposed to do in a case like that? The POLICE have charged the person with no evidence to back up the charge,are the CPS going to say 'Oh we have no evidence it was them but lets send them to court anyway'? Azphreal
  • Score: 3

11:31am Wed 30 Apr 14

muscliffman says...

Anyone who has been to a Court in whatever capacity, but perhaps especially as a Juror, will probably be able to explain this.

There is a huge difference between the quality and competence of the hapless crown prosecution lawyers and the many superb but expensive highly qualified private defence lawyers, sadly in our current system money does buy 'innocence'.
Anyone who has been to a Court in whatever capacity, but perhaps especially as a Juror, will probably be able to explain this. There is a huge difference between the quality and competence of the hapless crown prosecution lawyers and the many superb but expensive highly qualified private defence lawyers, sadly in our current system money does buy 'innocence'. muscliffman
  • Score: -1

6:22pm Wed 30 Apr 14

Sir Beachy Head says...

Better to let 100 guilty criminals off than to wrongly jail one innocent person.
Better to let 100 guilty criminals off than to wrongly jail one innocent person. Sir Beachy Head
  • Score: -2

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