Cutting costs was damaging Crown Court cases, according to a report into the Crown Prosecution Service. Michael Fuller, chief inspector of Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI), warned that cutting the cost of lawyers’ fees was being put before quality of advocacy. ‘Efficiency and quality can be delivered at the same time but the CPS needs to ensure its in-house prosecutors aren’t just used to save money, as the pursuit of good quality advocacy is paramount,’ he said. For example, HMCPSA report found that ‘an otherwise competent crown advocate was let down by a silly slip in opening, necessitating the jury being discharged’.
‘In the Crown Court the continued focus on financial savings has resulted in late instruction of crown advocates who do not for the most part have the tools to prepare cases out of the office, and late instructions to self-employed counsel who do not have time to remedy poor preparation,’ it said.
Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said that increased use of in-house advocates had ‘resulted in significant savings since 2006’ but insisted the overall quality of advocacy ‘remained high’. Starmer added that the report ‘identified several areas that need further improvement’.
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award