Area Assurance Inspection of CPS East Midlands

Date of publication
29 November 2016
Inspection
Organisation
Crown Prosecution Service
CPS Region
East Midlands

This inspection was carried out to look at whether the CPS in East Midlands delivers the maximum benefit for users and stakeholders with the resources available.

The inspectors gave the Area an overall score of GOOD for leadership and engagement, and an overall score of FAIR for performance, casework quality and communications with victims.

Criteria Score
The success of CPS people Good
Continuously improving Fair
High quality casework Fair
Public confidence Fair

Inspectors found that the Area had mixed performance results. Despite having a lower cost per case than the national average, some key outcomes are below the national CPS average, for example, the rate of guilty pleas at first hearing in the magistrates’ courts is below the national average, case preparation and progression need urgent attention and the financial forecasting model needs review.

Despite this, inspectors found that there is strong leadership by senior managers, who actively promote CPS values in the workplace and challenge inappropriate behaviour. This is clearly evidenced by the very high level of staff engagement, with CPS East Midlands recording a staff engagement score of 65% in the 2015 Civil Service People Survey. This is significantly higher than the national figure of 54% and places the East Midlands as the second highest ranked CPS Area.

Inspectors found that the Area has built up strong relationships with its stakeholders by ensuring that there is direct access to them in order to resolve difficult matters and they are represented at a large number of external meetings. Prosecutors have strong links with a large number of community groups, where they have gained their confidence and provided them with an additional forum to engage with the criminal justice system.

The Area needs to do more to improve in the following areas:

  • Engagement with victim and witness support groups has increased since July 2016. Nevertheless, the Area is not performing consistently in protecting the interests of victims, witnesses and the public. Victim and witness issues are not always addressed fully. More than a quarter of cases (27.5%) are unsuccessful due to victim reasons. Although this is an improvement over the last two years’ performance, more needs to be done to reduce this figure. Victims of crime have a right to be kept informed of the progress of criminal proceedings and they are entitled to receive an explanation if a charge is to be stopped or substantially altered. In 52.2% of relevant cases the Area failed to meet this obligation. All relevant staff should be trained on the Victim Communication and Liaison scheme (VCL) process and an effective mechanism should be put in place to ensure that VCL communications are timely, of a high standard and sent in all appropriate cases.
  • The Area needs to ensure that all cases have a robust and timely initial review and weak cases are weeded out at an early stage.
  • The Area needs to improve the way it prepares and progresses cases in the magistrates’ courts. A review should be undertaken to assess how effectively non-electronic material is reviewed before court and at court for the use of all parties.
  • The Area’s contribution to the Better Case Management (BCM) initiative could also be improved further. Managers must ensure that hearing record sheets are entered promptly and accurately onto the case management system to enable hearing outcomes to be updated on time.
  • Performance information needs to be presented in a format which is meaningful to the operational staff.
  • Regular discussion must take place on individual performance, so that operational staff understand how their contributions can influence performance outcomes.

Background

CPS East Midlands has offices at Nottingham and Leicester and is aligned with Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, and Nottinghamshire police forces. It covers ten magistrates’ courts and five Crown Court centres.

Inspectors examined 120 magistrates’ courts and Crown Court files finalised between April and June 2016.

Fieldwork took place in September 2016. Inspectors spoke with members of the judiciary, representatives of partner agencies and CPS staff, both formally and informally. Court observations were undertaken to assess the effectiveness of case progression.

Area Assurance Inspection of CPS East Midlands (301.03 kB)