CPS criticised by inspectors
THE performance of the Crown Prosecution Service in Essex has been rated as “poor” following an in-depth assessment. The service, which dealt with nearly 40,000 cases last year, was analysed on 14 different areas by the HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate.
THE performance of the Crown Prosecution Service in Essex has been rated as “poor” following an in-depth assessment.
The service, which dealt with nearly 40,000 cases last year, was analysed on 14 different areas by the HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate.
The overall rating was “poor”, with four of the 14 areas falling into that category, including management of resources and securing community confidence.
The Essex chief prosecutor has said the service is aware of its need to change and said a restructuring had already taken place to allow improvements.
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The inspectorate said the conviction rate in magistrates' courts was higher than the national average but improvement was needed to get better results in Crown Court.
It also found Essex CPS offered a good service to victims and witnesses although more should be done to keep victims up-to-date when charges have been dropped or changed.
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Stephen Wooler, chief inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Although the area was assessed as poor there was evidence that managers were beginning to address the problems.
“A number of changes have begun to have a positive impact on the area's performance.”
The service was successful in meeting its target for the number of offences brought to justice and in ensuring persistent young offenders were dealt with within the Government's 71-day target for the period from arrest to sentence.
Paula Abrahams, Essex chief crown prosecutor, said the findings were fully accepted.
“While there are areas for improvement I am proud of our performance in many areas of our work.
“In a modern prosecuting service it is essential that support is given to victims and witnesses who are going through the often traumatic experience of criminal trials.
“Not only are we working jointly with Essex Police to provide a good service to victims and witnesses but Essex, as an area, was one of the first in the country to do so taking forward pilot arrangements for the 'no witness no justice project', which provides victims and witnesses with a single of point of contact that explains, advises and facilitates their experience of the court system.
“Since my appointment in January 2006 I have focused on improving performance and have spent considerable time talking to our staff. I have been impressed with the commitment and dedication which our staff show, not only in their professional approach to work but also their sensitivity to victim and witness care.”