Friday, August 21, 2009

The Prosecution Team

That last post about the complainant-prosecutor relationship got me thinking. The police and the CPS have been working together since 1986. The CPS was created to ensure that the lawyers were independent of the police forces they worked with. We moved out of police stations.

In the comments of the last post, "ANON COPPER" said that he or she "always knew the CPS weren't on our side". And he or she is quite right, we are independent. But now, it seems we're heading back towards integration with the police. We're even back in the stations, and being called "The Prosecution Team".

The police, quite frankly, have far more to gain from "co-location" than the CPS. We get small administrative advantages on occasion. That's about it. We have to travel further to work, and work in grottier places than was previously the case.

On the other hand, they have a team of lawyers, 9-5, 5 days a week, and they seem to be under the impression that we are there to answer every little query, and solve every little problem. They don't hesitate to pelt us with questions, queries, requests for "unofficial advice", and the like. Yesterday, I had a police officer come to my desk and ask how to charge someone. Once I'd cleaned the tea off my monitor and the tears had stopped, I told her to go and speak to her sergeant. I could hear his response through several walls.

So we moan at each other, but for the most part, we seem to rub along. I mean, in other jurisdictions, when the lawyers have had enough of the police...

This has also been picked up by the BBC, here. Quite extraordinary.


  1. Firstly, good to see your blog back up. I thought you'd had the CPS equivalent of PSD breathing down your neck.

    In my force CPS have all moved out of our stations because it's better for erm, someone (most likely CPS) because it's now so awkward to get advice I simply wait until our local CPS have gone home and phone CPS direct therefore massively reducing the amount of advice I need to get from local CPS.

    I do this for a number of reasons, firstly I really can't be bothered to read the 20 lengthy emails sent from someone who long long ago in a land far far away actually did some real police work, telling me how to get advice from local CPS now they've moved out of their office in our "grotty" station to a central location where advice is administered via a telephone. (Yes I know that's what CPS direct do but bear with me).

    Secondly, CPS direct are much much more subjective in their decision making. I've seen cases that I could have prosecuted myself (and believe me, that's not conceited I'd be the most god awful lawyer ever) fail at local CPS advice simply because (I strongly suspect) the local CPS lawyer has quite enough on their plate thanks and doesn't need another crappy harassment hanging around them like a bad smell. On the flip side CPS direct have charged for what seems like simply a laugh so they can tell their mates in the pub, "Ha ha you'll never guess what I authorised a charge on last night LOOOOOOOOL" knowing full well it's never going to be seen by them again.....ever.

    I remember one CPS lawyer once telling me to think of them as our legal advisor, our prisoners have one so why can't we. I could go and see her before interview for any advice, run things by her before I even arrested someone but alas, that system worked a bit and we can't have that can we?

    It seems the powers that be are hell bent on making the relationship between police and CPS as bad as possible. I won't even start on the new supposed one page MG5's that take longer to complete than the old expedited file. It benefits the police not a jot and must surely somewhere help CPS or why the hell are we doing it.

    CPS and the Police should get on well, we both ultimately want the scum locked away.

  2. i'm not sure they do sometimes.....

    in our nick they generally just look for a way not to charge. some of the them are ok but some have the most annoying superiority complex....

    5 years at law school and i have to deal with those awful police officers...

    agree with the lack of consistancy as well.

  3. Anonymous the first, thank you for that in depth view of CPS / CPSD from your side of the thin blue line. I agree that we want "the scum" locked up (they're called "slags" round my way), it's just deciding who's "the scum" that's the tricky bit. We all have to apply the Code for Crown Prosecutors, and you can, of course, appeal any decisions made. If you think a solid case has been binned because someone can't be arsed, then moan about it, and don't stop. I've recently charged something that I know full well will give me no end of grief, but I couldn't not charge on that basis.

    Anonymous the second, the superiority complex is actually part of the final week at Bar school and on the LPC; "How To Look Down On Just About Everyone For Beginners". More seriously, lawyers are human after all (take a number and join the queue to make jokes, please), and as with all sections of humanity, there are nice people you'd happily have a beer with, and there are people you wouldn't piss on if they were on fire.

  4. Piss taking is an art not a science and we lawyers spend a lot of good money polishing our skills at it at bar school and down the pub. Of course, this allows the twats and hopless spineless members of the profession to avoid making any decision at all and pass the buck and as a consequence good cases don't get very far and the unbelievably crap ones seem to get before the courts. Nobody these days has any pride in their work its all just a bit 'too hard'. It's all prerformance indicators and how can I get away from frontline work and become a manager, oh the dreaded budget. Decent cops and decent prosecuters are treated like S**t* and morale is low not helped with unbelievably ridiculous offences combined with mind bogglingly complex laws. Pitty we couldn't go back to the good old kick up the arse- that would do a lot to help the budget!!!!!

  5. so, can a police sargeant charge a person or can the person demand the cps makes the charge. what if it is out of office hours, is it then only the police who have this say. dont want to spoil your pat on the back to each other and nice to read that the cps will only look at the evidence. mmm who is on this power trip, all said in gest of course. Please may i have an honest answer