Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chronically Poor Shambles

Justice in action

As BOM readers will know, the Crown Prosecution Service is a total shambles. Two years ago we blogged the National Audit Office's devastating report revealing amateurish working practices, endemic incompetence, and gripless management (see this blog). Incomplete files, unanswered phones, uncontactable lawyers (never heard of Blackberries), and abysmal lack of urgency - they're all taken for granted inside the CPS.

This morning, the CPS Inspectorate (note - it's so bad, it needs its own inspectorate) has issued its own devastating report. They focus on the state of CPS case files, a basic essential of the lawyer's business.

They find that the "majority of files" are incomplete in important respects. Things are not recorded clearly and legibly, and have vital bits missing. Bail records are particularly weak - one-third of bail conditions are not recorded at all - the CPS lawyer just can't be fagged.

As the Inspector says, bad files mean that CPS work often has to be done several times over (for which we pay). Worse, it also undoubtedly means bad guys get off: the Inspector is predictably cagey on the extent of that problem, but admits there are cases.

So what happens now?

CPS head Sir Ken Waccy Baccy MacDonald is just "exiting" after five years "in charge". Totally unconnected with the shambles of course.

Naturally they're looking for a new super-lawyer to take over. But as we've said before, WTF would a successful criminal lawyer want such a job? Not only must you report to a bunch of clothead politicos (who will dump on you at the slightest whiff of trouble), you will have to manage hundreds of second rate timeservers who are only working for the CPS because they can't get a job as a proper lawyer. Who needs it?

The CPS in its current Big Government Blob will never get fixed. What we need to do is break the whole thing up and get in some of those locally elected DAs like they have on US crime shows. Ten to twenty in Sing Sing - take him down.

PS En route to Crete, Tyler found himself sitting next to a man who described himself as a retired criminal lawyer. It turned out he used to work for the CPS. It also turned out he's an evangelical Christian, who believes strongly in the redemption of sinners, and now spends his time touring prisons, trying to put them on the path of righteousness. Of course, we can have no gripe with that per se. But we did wonder if such a man should ever have been employed trying to bang them up in the first place.

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