Criminal justice staff praised

INSPECTORS have todaypraised the work of criminal justice staff in Essex but warned there are areas of quality concern which still need to be addressed.

INSPECTORS have todaypraised the work of criminal justice staff in Essex but warned there are areas of quality concern which still need to be addressed.

The Crown Prosecution Service in Essex (CPS Essex) is responsible for the prosecution of people who have been charged by the county's police force and is part of the national service.

The report, carried out in May this year, found the service demonstrated a "very progressive" and "dynamic attitude" to its role in the criminal justice system.

It acknowledged the CPS Essex deserved a lot of credit for its aim and vision but added the body now needs to consolidate its position.

However, problems were identified with case management and performance including staff needing to do more to avoid the outcome in cases resulting in judge ordered acquittals.

CPS Essex had been the first area to set up staff working from the same location as police when preparing cases.

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Stephen Wooler, HM Chief Inspector of the CPS inspectorate, said: "Their progressive and dynamic approach to initiatives aimed at improving criminal justice reflect what is sought in a modern public service.

"Although inspectors identified some casework and management issues, I hope that this inspection will help CPS Essex to consolidate its position and, with proper evaluation and review, build on what has already been achieved."

John Bell, the chief crown prosecutor for CPS Essex, said he was pleased the hard work of his staff had been recognised.

He said: "The inspectors have recognised one or two areas of our work which could be improved. My senior management team and I have already met to determine how we secure these improvements.

"I am confident that, with the support of our criminal justice partners, we will strive to provide a high level of service which can only be of benefit to the people of Essex."

Some of the key findings were that there has been development of very positive relationships with its criminal justice partners at a strategic level, particularly the police. Witness care in the courts has improved and continues to do so, assisted by new measures to help vulnerable and intimidated witnesses.

Also that the standard of advocacy in the crown court was of a satisfactory standard or higher, but in magistrates' courts the quality was more variable, especially the ability of agents conducting contested cases.

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