Case Finalisations

Date of publication
23 May 2017
Inspection
Inspection category
Case Management System

Inspectors from HMCPSI have carried out an inspection to evaluate the recording of finalisations onto the Crown Prosecution Service’s case management system (CMS) which records cases and outcomes.

All cases dealt with by the CPS are registered on this system and tracked throughout the life of each case. The provision of high quality data is critical to maintaining the smooth administration of the criminal justice system and public confidence in it, and it must be seen to deliver robust compliance monitoring and assurance, good governance and accountability.

Inspectors found that overall management of the finalisations on CMS had improved significantly since 2013-14. The CPS has made a considerable investment in the data quality and integrity of information on CMS, with much work having been done to update guidance, train lawyers and administrators and improve knowledge, ownership and accuracy of the finalisation outcomes data. It did, however, identify some areas for improvement.

Recorded court hearing
CMS is often updated by an administrator who relies on the information provided by the advocate who attended court. The information supplied was not always consistent. In particular there was inconsistency noted in the submission of a hearing record sheet (HRS). The report recommended a standard template HRS for use by all advocates to record the necessary case data. Standardised methods of inputting would ensure that all cases could be updated efficiently and accurately.

Recording the Principal Offence Category
The error rate exceeded CPS recommendations but a tool to calculate the correct Principal Offence Category (or POC) has been developed which is helping to produce more consistent and accurate results. The CPS is planning to embed this tool into CMS, which has the potential to reduce almost all error rates.

Quality of endorsements
There was no standard method of recording endorsements which has led to some inconsistency in recording. Although some Areas had taken steps to improve the quality of endorsements by training, more guidance and training is necessary.

Timeliness of finalisations
There has been a distinct improvement in the timeliness of case finalisations in the 12 months to December 2016. In a recent development, paralegal staff in the Crown Court are updating cases either in court or immediately afterwards rather than waiting for the case to be updated back at the office. This has the potential to speed up case finalisations considerably.

Data quality assurance checks
There are a number of assurance systems in place which provide a mechanism to improve performance. The report recommended that Areas should comply with the 10% check of managers’ checks to ensure consistency of approach by managers.

Headquarters’ data quality checks
The report recommended that the CPS should review the current use of Area data checks and the Compliance and Assurance Team monitoring results to see if more use can be made of the data to raise performance, in particular with regard to identifying trends and solutions and sharing good practice.

Performance indicators guidance
While this was available it was not always easily accessible. Work has begun on updating this with a new page on the Infonet, developed during the inspection phase, which will provide clarity and raise awareness.

Training
There has been substantial investment in training for administrators and prosecutors, which has provided considerable improvements. A new all-staff training package will ensure greater consistency across the board and develop skill levels.

Inspectors reviewed 450 files finalised in October 2016. The selection represented a mix of magistrates and Crown Court cases, and successful and unsuccessful outcomes. The inspectors also reviewed CMS reports and guidance, undertook a survey of managers and staff, and interviewed a broad cross-section of staff.

Case finalisations inspection report (378.38 kB)