Saturday, July 25, 2009

Filthy lucre

This is something of a "hot potato" right now, what with our collective credit being crunched. The CPS is under intense pressure to save money -- millions of pounds across the country -- so that Gordon can save the universe, or something.

Of course, like any government department right now, we are already pretty tightly stretched. Over-spends abound. And yet further savings are demanded. The inconvenient truth is that prosecuting crime needs lawyers to make decisions. Lawyers are relatively highly trained, and need appropriate salaries. CPS salary bands are roughly as follows:

  1. Legal trainee (pupil barrister or trainee solicitor) -- £20k

  2. Crown Prosecutor -- £29k

  3. Senior Crown Prosecutor -- £36k

  4. Crown Advocate -- £50k-£70k

These figures are approximate, of course. Not too shabby, is it? There's a bit extra for being in London, although "London weighting" extends as far south as the London Borough of the Isle of Wight [sic]. There's a bit extra extra for being in Inner London, i.e. London as most people think of it.

And of course, we get gold-plated final salary pensions, flexi-time, generous annual leave, sick pay, holiday pay, child care vouchers, etc., etc., etc., all of which cost money. Lots of money. Especially the pensions.

But it's all O.K., and we're going to make the savings, because we've had an idea -- we're just going to get rid of the lawyers. Yes, it's the great DCW debate! Let's get designated caseworkers in, make them do the lawyers' jobs, but pay them less! Brilliant.

And while we're at it, we'd better not use the independent Bar, because they cost us money, too. The cheek of it! Let's just employ some barristers, and we can save all those nasty fees.

Actually, this links pretty nicely to the next thing I wanted to talk about -- the CPS advocacy strategy, the employed Bar, and designated caseworkers.


  1. The National Health Service has been able to make financial savings and relieve pressure on GP surgeries by using non-medically qualified people to issue Tamiflu vouchers for swine flu.

    Doctors and Lawyers always complain when there is a little erosion of their work remit. I see no reason why the CPS should not also be under the same intense pressure to save money.

    Blame the bankers for the country's financial crisis. The pressure to save public money across a wide range of the professions, including the CPS, might see an increased use of less qualified people. However, it may potentially lighten your workload and allow your qualified skills to be more resourcefully used.

  2. The Juror -- saving money by removing simple tasks from the remit of qualified professionals is one thing, but the total replacement of those qualified professionals is another. This is perhaps more akin to removing GP's from surgeries, where 98% of patients are treated, and just having doctors in accident and emergency departments, where the serious things are dealt with. Of course, it's hard to sound principled about this sort of thing without sounding just a little protectionist, but c'est la vie.

  3. Like all these government initiatives, they are rarely thought through and invariably end up costing far more than the systems they replace. There is no independent audit of the effectiveness.
    The same is true of the myriad of sentencing changes forced on JPs where complexity is introduced in inverse proportion to effectiveness, and no one ever pauses to verify the effect of a change before introducing the next one.
    Best of luck mr CPS, but I fear that many more cases will fail to get through the courts simply because of poor case preparation by low grade staff, and the public will rightly see the criminal justice system for the farce it is rapidly becomming.

  4. The DCW is just the next link in a government-wide deskilling of whatever seems to be getting expensive. Thus 'job enhancement' allows a) hospital cleaners to become nursing auxiliaries, saving the cost of registered nurses, b) classroom assistants become teaching assistants reducing the need for teachers, c) traffic wardens become community support officers, replacing uniformed police officers, d) junior probation staff become probation service officers, reducing the need for probayion officers. This then expands into other areas, such as conditional cautions which bypass expensive courts. The list goes on.
    The only exception seems to be magistrates (free) replaced by district judges (expensive). I don't understand that one; maybe DJ's are more 'reliable'.

  5. I am totally with the Anonymous Prosecutor. The governments policies are a deskilling, which leads to enourmous wasted costs!

    I recently dealt with a young man accused of burglary. The DCW indicated that the case would be run on the basis that D entered the building with an intention to steal. However, there was nothing stolen and no evidence that any attempt was made to steal from this building site of a building. Had he put it that the burglary was committed through criminal damamge he would have had a stronger case.

    Despite my making representations at court on two occasions to two DCWs both refused to accept my reps that D should be allowed to plead to a lesser offence of being on enclosed premesis - one gave the reason that the Crown 'can prove he was on the premesis' and that my reps would be used against us. When I pointed out that our defence was not that he wasn't on the premesis the DCW just looked confused and clearly didnt understand.

    A week before trial we got a call from a proper prosecutor who had read my written reps and asked if we would still be willing to plead.

    Had a proper prosecutor attended in the first place we could have avoided two wasted hearings a wasted trial date and a whole lot of costs on both sides!

    1. well hurah! is the chancellor of the ex cheq readingthis? or maybe he already knows, what enormous savings his number crunching minions are making with pretend lawyers

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