Inspection of CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division (Feb 19)

Date of publication
05 February 2019
Crown Prosecution Service
CPS Region
Casework Divisions
Inspection type
CPS Areas and Headquarters Reports

Inspectors from HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) looked into the effectiveness of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division. The inspection looked at governance and leadership; continuity risk and knowledge management; performance improvement and resource management; and stakeholder management and public confidence.

Inspectors found that the leadership and governance of the Division was strong. In fact staff engagement in the Division was measured as being higher than the CPS average for a number of years. Regular team meetings took place across the Division, and a Communications Manager was appointed to ensure that internal communication was an integral part of the Division. Currently the department is split between offices in London and York with a small office in Warrington. Although staff engagement was good irrespective of location, inspector’s recommended that a regular newsletter covering all aspects of business would help to consolidate ‘the whole Division identify’ and break down any perceptions in differences between the York and London teams.

Inspectors identified that an effective risk register was being maintained, and that the Division managed its casework knowledge effectively and shared that knowledge with others across the CPS. As most of the staff are specialists in their field, any specialist guidance is shared readily with all staff. Due to the high profile nature of cases, there is a significant amount of media interest in cases. Currently the Division shares information with the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Attorney General’s Office and the CPS Press Office on a regular basis. However some of this information can be very dense, and inspectors recommended that a better and timelier approach should be introduced.

Inspectors found that the Division had a good track record of operating within budget, and there were effective financial governance and control in place.

The Division worked effectively in influencing partners and stakeholders. As well as this, inspectors signalled out the Counter Terrorism unit as being pro-active in capturing best practice and lessons learned with other external agencies. However there was a mixed response from those interviewed as to whether knowledge was shared across the Division, and it was recommended that the Division may need to review its approach to sharing relevant good practice across the department and CPS as a whole.

This was a positive report, although there were a few recommendations made including:

  • working with the DPP’s office and AGO to ensure that the right information is getting to them in a timely and succinct way
  • the Division need to review its approach to sharing relevant good practise across the division and CPS
  • inspectors recommended using a regular newsletter to cover all aspects of the business and break down any perceptions that exist between the York and London teams
  • the deployment of prosecutors to higher court advocacy should ensure that these are being deployed effectively with value for money.

The Division was set up in April 2011, with its most current form established in 2016 following on from the CPS Serious Casework Review. There are three operational sections: Appeal and Review unit (ARU), Counter Terrorism unit (CT) and Special Crime unit (SC). The Division provides early investigative advice and general advice, as well as dealing with prosecutions. The inspection was carried out in October 2018, where inspectors spoke to representatives from partner agencies as well as representatives from the CPS.

Inspection of CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division (Feb 19) (268 kB)