The benefits of co-location, i.e. the CPS being in the police stations, are felt far more keenly by the officers than by us. They get to bring us inane questions for which they never would previously have bothered to get an appointment ("But how do I charge him, I don't know how, do I need to arrest him?"), and we get our days interrupted, and don't get as much work done.
Today, I was asked to deal with a breach of a non-molestation order. I was in the middle of some very important browsing of the internet, but the officer was loath to call CPSD.
I looked at the file. Easy-peasy. She says he's been round her house, County Court's already told him not to go round, he's got previous for doing it, no reason to disbelieve her, he knows he's not supposed to be there, and has coughed it in custody, charged in 10 minutes flat. Back to the internet, and he can go to court.
So, CPSD. CPS Direct are the little-known call centre of the CPS. The police phone them for charging advice when us normal CPS lot aren't in the office, which means they work from about 4.30 pm - 9.30 am. Actually, they also answer the phone when we can't / won't give charging advice. So they're pretty much round the clock on shifts, working from home.
The CPS sticks a phone line and fax in the lawyers' living rooms, gives them a headset and a 25% payrise, and they give out charging advice from home, over the telephone. They are, in all likelihood, sitting in their dressing gowns, a Marlboro Light sticking out the corner of their mouths, with a pot of tea on the go, and late night Radio 2 in the background.
They are a mixed bag, as are any group of lawyers. Some are excellent lawyers, which is immediately apparent when reading their advice. Some are clearly sick of the phone going at four a.m., have run out of fags, and are wishing they were still asleep. This is also obvious when we read their advice.
There isn't really a moral to that tale, I'm afraid. Just more civil servants doing a relatively difficult job, for next to no recognition. Any CPSD lawyers out there want to chip in? Anonymously, of course...