CPS Cymru-Wales Area Assurance Inspection (Aug 16)

Date of publication
17 August 2016
Crown Prosecution Service
CPS Region
Inspection type
CPS Areas and Headquarters Reports

Inspectors gave the Area an overall score of GOOD on governance and value for money, and an overall score of FAIR for casework quality and service delivery for users.

Criteria Score
Managing resources Excellent
Managing performance Good
Effectiveness of joint working Fair
Compliance with disclosure requirements Fair
Casework reviews and decisions Fair
Case preparation and progression Good
Communicating with victims Poor

Inspectors found that the Area is delivering value for money for its users. It is operating at a much lower cost per case than the CPS national average, and the conviction rates in the magistrates’ courts are noticeably better. They are also slightly better in the Crown Court. This has been achieved against a background of two significant challenges – a reduction in staff numbers and a significant reduction in the Area’s estate. The Area management team has provided effective leadership.

The Area uses performance information to identify strengths and weaknesses and uses this data to drive improvement. However, it must ensure that its use of resources is effective in all areas of the prosecution process as there are aspects of casework quality that need to improve.

Inspectors found that the Area does not require the police to comply with their obligations for all aspects of the disclosure process, in particular providing adequate descriptions on disclosure schedules. Prosecutors’ standard of handling the disclosure process also needs to improve. Disclosure was timely in just over half of cases inspected (53.5%).

Over half the police files reaching the Area are not of sufficient quality and little or no challenge or feedback is provided to the police forces. On too many occasions, the Area does not review a case at all before it is listed in court and even when it does, the review often does not add any real value. The Area must continue to work with (and challenge where necessary) the police to improve file quality, and must also improve the quality of their own file reviews.

Overall, court case outcomes are significantly better than the national average. The Area’s cracked and ineffective trial rate also remains better than the national average. This is despite defects in the quality and timeliness of the Area’s initial review, the quality and timeliness of the Initial Details of the Prosecution Case (IDPC) being served on the court, and the fact that prosecutors are not engaging with the defence in advance of the first hearing. The Area needs to improve its case preparation work for the first hearing and comply fully with the requirements of Transforming Summary Justice.

Magistrates’ courts performance is stronger than the Crown Court and both deal with guilty pleas better than contested cases. While outcomes remain above the national average, Crown Court performance is declining in contested cases which is a cause for concern, particularly with regard to rape and serious sexual offences, which form a significant and growing part of the contested caseload. The Area must focus on its performance in rape and serious sexual offences and continue to work with the police to ensure that it is dealt with appropriately.

Inspectors found only limited evidence of compliance with the Victims’ Code and policies on communication with victims (including consulting victims on discontinuance or pleas, Victim Communication Letters, communications with bereaved families, and the Victims’ Right to Review). Performance is poor in relation to quality and timeliness of correspondence – in only half of relevant cases was a timely Victim Communication Letter, of sufficient quality, sent. There was a lack of empathy towards victims in some letters, and inspectors found examples of some letters being sent to victims with the wrong outcomes and insufficient information to explain the decision. The Area must improve its performance and ensure that the appropriate quality standards are achieved in all communications with victims.

Inspectors acknowledge the work carried out by the Area to provide an equal service to the Welsh language under the Welsh Language Act 1993.


CPS Cymru-Wales has offices at Cardiff, Swansea and Mold and is aligned with Gwent, South Wales, Dyfed-Powys and North Wales police forces. It covers 22 magistrates’ courts and six Crown Court centres.

Inspectors examined 120 magistrates’ courts and Crown Court files finalised between September 2015 and March 2016. Inspectors spoke to staff, relevant police forces and partner agencies, including those dealing with victims and witnesses. Fieldwork took place in May 2016. Court observations were undertaken to assess the effectiveness of case progression.

Area Assurance Inspection of CPS Cymru-Wales (262 kB)

Arolygiad Sicrwydd Ardal o CPS Cymru (307 kB)