Monday, July 27, 2009

Alice in Wonderland

Crimeline is a regular email update service, provided free of charge by those responsible for the Crimeline website. It covers important new caselaw and changes in sentencing practice, among other things. The latest email reports that the independent financial consultants, Europe Economics, have had a little look at the CPS justification for using in-house advocates. Their full report can be read here.

The executive summary: CPS haven't put forward the true cost of in-house advocates for comparison.

The thinking goes like this:
  1. Barristers charge fees

  2. We could employ barristers, thus saving the fees

  3. Err, that's it.

Some of my readers may have noticed that the rest of the world is out-sourcing, sub-contracting and otherwise removing employees from their payrolls. Even the typists in the office here are employed by a service company. The cleaners by a different company again. While most companies are doing what they can to rely on short-term contracts with no obligations towards the provider of that service, we're doing the exact opposite.

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, CPS employees need pensions, sick pay, holiday pay, offices, training, development opportunities, etc. etc. Barristers don't, they get their fee, and that's it. They're on their own for everything else.

The CPS have allowed 10.2% on top of the salaries of the in-house lot to meet fixed costs. Doesn't seem like enough to cover long-term pension liabilities, let alone the running costs for a couple of huge pieces of prime central London commercial real estate.

I suppose we will shortly see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

As a brief p.s., CPS offices across London are now re-locating to police stations, despite "co-location" being one of the justifications for the creation of the CPS -- we wanted to be seen as having independence from the police. Once the big buildings are "off-budget", we will never be able to have our own offices again, as the purchase would be an enormous outlay, and it would look for all the world like money was being spent, and that just wouldn't do, would it?


  1. 10.2% is suspiciously similar to the old rate of employer's NI. Employer's NI is now 12.8%, so they are out of pocket immediately.

    Conventional businesses use estimates of between 150% and 250% of base salary to get to a fully loaded estimate (i.e. including office space, pensions, payroll taxes, expenses of running payroll, etc.)

  2. When I was budgeting for staff costs for grant applications and the like, the total cost was basically double the salary. This was for a public sector-ish organisation so with final salary pension scheme and the like. If I tried to do a cost justification based on 10% overheads I would have been slapped over the wrist pretty promptly.

  3. I notice they seem to be using the average hourly cost - with no allowance for downtime - which works only if everyone is fully occupied all the time. But the marginal cost on the basis that there is spare capacity.

    They can't both be true and they certainly shouldn't both be relied on at the same time.

  4. I disagree that the CPS should be independant from the police. I'm not even sure that this was the original aim. We still get the blame every time that the suspect 'get's off'. It used to be the case that officers would present their own cases this had a number of advantages. the main advantage of the current system is that of specialism ie if you focus on one bit of a job you get good at it. The main disadvantage is the ever increasing seperation and lack of ownersip for a case - if you haven't dealt with the victim directly you simply can't be expected to care or know about the case as well (like chinese whispers).

    Co-locating should at least ease this last concern

  5. I know this is a bit old now, but here goes.

    Nuvos (the main civil service pension scheme for new entrants) has acontribution rate that tops out at something like 27% of pensionable pay for the oldest workers, and I think the bottom rate is over 10.4%. 30% was reckoned a few years ago for PCSOs, and the ACPO charging guidance (for paid for police services such as premiership matches) reckons the full economic cost of a police officer is £50 an hour, with 1,500 chargeable hours a year, making a total bill of £75,000 for an employee who gets maybe £30,000 a year if they are lucky. Good event security can't be had for less than £10 per hour, usually more, and £7 or £8 per hour is all the bouncers get.