|Hounslow's Crown Prosecution Service Rated 'Poor'|
Service lacking in decision making, dealing with serious offences and caring for victims
Failings in the local Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have allowed defendants to go free without facing trial according to a report published today, March 16th.
Inspectors gave Hounslow CPS a rating of 'Poor' finding the service particularly lacking in pre-charge advice and decisions; decision-making, preparation and progression in magistrates’ court cases; serious violent and sexual offences, and hate crimes and service to victims and witnesses.
In the report which looked at 20 of the 33 London Boroughs, CPS Inspectorate's Stephen Wooler said that Hounslow's performance needed to be improved substantially.
“Case preparation needs to be strengthened significantly, as does the standard of service to victims and witnesses. There are now some positive signs of improvement and staff have remained supportive of each other during this period of change.”
The report highlighted the need for key roles to be filled believing that high staff turnover was to blame to some extent for the poor performance.
“Only a limited improvement can realistically be expected in Hounslow if staffing levels are not addressed and improved. This is outside the control of the borough and the district.”
Commenting on results of the report London wide, Mr Wooler said, “These findings are both disappointing and worrying. A major concern was Crown Court casework which was too often poorly prepared and this had adverse effects on trial readiness, on the prosecution and the way cases were presented.”
Of the 20 that were examined, only one was rated good, with seven fair and twelve poor, the lowest standard. More than half, the inspectors said, delivered a “poor quality service to the public and their partners in the criminal justice system”.
Recently appointed chief prosecutor Alison Saunders said that the CPS accepted the criticisms and was already taking steps to remedy them. “This report does not make easy reading for us. It confirms the shortcomings that we had already identified and have begun to address.”
March 19, 2010