Crown Prosecution Service

– in the House of Commons at 4:49 pm on 1st June 1998.

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Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Attorney General, Law Officers' Department, Attorney General (Law Officers) 4:49 pm, 1st June 1998

With permission, Madam Speaker, I should like to make a statement.

The report of the review of the Crown Prosecution Service has today been placed before Parliament and published. I set up the review on 12 June 1997, under the chairmanship of Sir Iain Glidewell, to examine the organisation and structure of the CPS and to consider what changes might be necessary to provide for more effective and efficient prosecution of crime. Its terms of reference reflected the widely held concerns expressed about the Crown Prosecution Service in the Labour party paper "The Case for the Prosecution", published shortly before the election.

The report concludes that the CPS has not achieved the improvement in the effectiveness and efficiency of the prosecution process that was expected to result from its establishment in 1986. It recognises a number of reasons for that, extending back to the earliest days of the service, and recommends significant change in the structure and form of management of the CPS. It also makes clear, however, that the CPS has achieved much in its short life in establishing itself as a cohesive, national and independent prosecuting service. Moreover, the review team is certain that it can overcome its problems and that it has the potential to become a lively, successful and esteemed part of the criminal justice system. Sadly, it adds, none of those adjectives applies at present to the service as a whole.

The report—which, in large measure, confirms the judgments that we formed in opposition—sets out an agenda for an organisation that is less centralised and in which lawyers spending less time on management and more on prosecuting. Our paper "The Case for the Prosecution" covered only one, but a very important, facet of the Government's programme of reforming the criminal justice system. That programme includes improving the management and organisation of the magistrates courts system, changes in the youth justice system and proposals for speeding up justice generally.

The core proposal for the CPS—a national headquarters setting clear standards and policies, but with implementation effected by better-run and more local organisations enjoying real autonomy—is fully in line with the Government's approach on a range of issues. While the Government are keen to see toughly audited targets for performance and priorities, they also want the professional to be left to get on with what the professional does best.

The report endorses the Government's decision, announced in May last year, to divide the CPS into 42 areas coterminous with police areas, and recommends that the reorganisation needed to give effect to that decision be used as an opportunity for a genuinely new start for the service.

The report is comprehensive in its analysis and recommendations. I shall mention a few highlights. It proposes that each of the new areas should be headed by a chief Crown prosecutor. The 42 chief Crown prosecutors will be crucial to the success of the new CPS. They must be people of stature in the local community who are recognised by local people as their chief prosecutors. They must be able to stand on equal terms with the chief constable, the local judiciary and other key players in the criminal justice system, and they must be recognised as being responsible, with them, for the effective delivery of criminal justice in the area.

The report makes recommendations aimed at ensuring that staff in the CPS should be allowed to get on with their core activity of prosecuting and be released from the burden of management. Moreover, it recognises the need for a better career structure for the staff of the service. The report proposes a radical and far-reaching reorganisation of the CPS. It proposes that the role of headquarters should, in addition to some casework responsibilities, be focused on core functions of setting the national framework and resourcing and monitoring the areas, and that a chief executive, who would rank second in the organisation to the Director of Public Prosecutions, should be appointed. That individual would be responsible to and work closely with the DPP, but would relieve him or her of the great bulk of managerial and administrative work.

The report's recommendations are intended to enable the CPS to handle cases in magistrates courts speedily, while devoting greater effort to more serious cases in both magistrates courts and the Crown court. It recommends that the CPS should take over the conduct of a prosecution immediately after the police charge the defendant and proposes that some support functions of the police service and the CPS, which often involve substantial duplication, should be undertaken by an integrated unit, staffed by a mixture of CPS lawyers and caseworkers assisted by police officers attached to the unit. The unit would prepare and deal with many straightforward cases in their entirety. These are innovative proposals which will need to be considered with special care.

The report also deals with the role of central casework—the section of the CPS that deals with very serious and sensitive cases from all over the country, such as terrorism and cases involving serious allegations against the police. The report describes a series of long-running problems in that section which are now being addressed. It endorses the need for realistic staffing, external recruitment, better training and improved casework audit procedures. It also recommends that central casework should not be treated as if it were like a geographical area, but should be incorporated into headquarters, where the unique nature of the work done and the need for special expertise can be recognised.

The Glidewell proposals add up to a real challenge, not only for the CPS but for the Government. We must examine them in the context of our existing initiatives. The review team's report contains much that accords with the Government's approach. In particular, it recognises the need for the agencies that make up the criminal justice system to have shared and mutually reinforcing objectives. It recognises that the problems of the CPS cannot be viewed in isolation from those of the other agencies that make up the criminal justice system and that the improvements to the system that are so urgently required will come not just from improving the individual parts, but from ensuring that the various agencies involved operate together better. That approach is fully in accord with the Government's approach in setting up the cross-cutting spending review of the criminal justice system.

The Government fully accept the need for change in the CPS. We intend to lose no time in starting the process. A first major step will be the selection of the 42 chief Crown prosecutors, a programme put into abeyance on the advice of the review team. The new DPP will proceed with that, once in post.

The announcement by the Director of Public Prosecutions on 20 May 1998 of her intention to stand aside before the end of her contractual period so that her successor can be appointed to drive forward the necessary change is a generous move, reflecting her commitment to the interests of the service. I pay warm tribute to Dame Barbara Mills for some nine years of public service, first as Director of the Serious Fraud Office and currently as DPP. In both cases, she has provided strong leadership, and her contribution will long be valued.

The report contains some 75 recommendations covering a wide range of issues. The Government accept the thrust of its proposals for reordering CPS priorities to focus more on the core business of prosecuting, greater separation of management from legal work, greater autonomy for the areas and better prospects for staff. We accept the recommendation for the appointment of a chief executive. Mr. Mark Addison has been appointed and will take up his appointment within a matter of days. Other recommendations relating to the more detailed internal management of the CPS will be for the chief executive to consider as one of his first steps.

A number of the recommendations affect the responsibilities of other Ministers, notably my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor. Decisions on those recommendations will be taken in consultation with them. It is important that our views be informed by contributions from as wide a range of sources as possible. Therefore, I invite interested organisations, practitioners and others who may be affected by, or otherwise wish to comment on, the proposals in the report to forward their views to me or my ministerial colleagues.

The Government will publish a formal response to the recommendations, setting out our response to each recommendation, whether it will be implemented, and if so how. A plan of action will also be drawn up and published.

The quality of the report shows the hard work and talent of the review team: Sir lain Glidewell, Sir Geoffrey Dear, Mr. Robert McFarland and the secretariat to the team. I could not have expected more. I extend to them on behalf of the Government the warmest possible thanks.

Finally, I should like to pay my own tribute to the staff of the CPS. The report recognises in many passages their commitment and professionalism. I have seen that myself during visits, both before and after the election, to CPS branches. There is a strong desire for change in most, if not all, of the CPS. I know that the staff of the CPS are willing and able to take their proper place in the criminal justice system. I also know that they are the most precious resource of the CPS. They have undergone a period of intense and demoralising uncertainty during the review. I believe that today marks the beginning of a new way forward for the CPS and its staff. In the making of the decisions for the future, the staff must be consulted. Their interests must be considered and implementation must be phased so as to minimise disruption to them.

I have no doubt that the talent, enthusiasm and commitment exist to permit the CPS to take its rightful place in the criminal justice system. Change is needed. The work of the review team provides us with a firm basis on which to make decisions for the future. While there is more work to be done, I believe that the process has now well and truly begun which will permit the CPS to become a more effective and esteemed national prosecuting body.

Photo of Sir Nicholas Lyell Sir Nicholas Lyell Shadow Attorney General

First, we join the Attorney-General in thanking Sir lain Glidewell and his team for the obvious hard work that has gone into the report. I was glad to hear the Attorney-General's tribute to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Dame Barbara Mills, and I hope that he will not think it out of order if I express some regret that the spin doctors that the Labour party often so effectively employs in other fields were unable to prevent—or at least balance—the disgraceful hatchet job in The Sunday Times this weekend, which she did not deserve.

Does the Attorney-General agree that the key to the way forward is the close working together of the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Court Service, the judiciary and the probation service? For that reason, I am pleased to see the Home Secretary is sitting beside the right hon. and learned Gentleman.

The Labour party must be careful not to believe too much of its own propaganda. In its report before the election, "The Case for the Prosecution", much was made of the fact that crime had doubled and the number of prosecutions or convictions had dropped to a third. The impression was given that that was somehow the fault of the CPS. Does the Attorney-General accept that that is not and could not be the case? The CPS prosecutes the cases brought forward by the police and it prosecutes in an overwhelming proportion of those cases.

I am glad that the report recognises that there remains a strong need for a powerful central core to the CPS, which will need strong and effective leadership in the future. Can the Attorney-General tell us what is happening as regards the appointment of a new Director of Public Prosecutions? Will the post be advertised? From where is he seeking to find such a person? When does he hope to make the appointment?

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman recognise that in appointing 42 new chief Crown prosecutors—one for each police area—he is to some extent substantially increasing a higher level of management? I do not criticise that, but does he recognise that the prime reason for focusing a chief Crown prosecutor on a police area is to emphasise that the police and the CPS have a joint responsibility and that it will take all the backing that the Home Secretary can give and that of chief constables—as well as anything that the right hon. and learned Gentleman can do—to enable a chief Crown prosecutor who, in many areas, has perhaps 30 lawyers and 100 support staff under his command to gain proper respect equivalent to that given to a chief constable, who has perhaps 1,200 officers?

On magistrates courts and the preparation of work there, if the CPS is to run effectively the administration support units that are at present run by the police, does the Attorney-General agree that two things will have to happen? First, the CPS will have to be given the necessary resources. They will have to come out of the criminal justice budget, and the Home Office may have to give some ground in that respect. Secondly, there are 60 police officers for every CPS lawyer and one cannot conjure out of thin air lawyers to run the administration support units. They will need effective backing from senior police officers to ensure that the units deliver effective prosecutions.

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman recognise that he is following the course that we were taking? I am glad that he and the Home Secretary are also following that course in seeking to speed up cases into magistrates courts, through the Narey report. Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman confirm that that will continue?

At least a year before the election, I saw some valuable studies in which e-mailing techniques were being used between the police, the CPS and the Court Service. Surely it should be possible to take that forward rapidly so that those three services can communicate better. I accept that information technology has been a bugbear for the CPS over the years. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree? What will be done to improve that situation?

I welcome the fact that there are to be contributions from outside before the Government finally deliver their response, but can we now expect an early response? Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept that the report has been published six months later than he originally believed and led us to believe, and that there is little time to lose? Finally, can we expect a debate in Government time on this important subject before too long?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Attorney General, Law Officers' Department, Attorney General (Law Officers)

I shall try to deal with the right hon. and learned Gentleman's catalogue of questions. He started by mentioning what he described as a hatchet job in The Sunday Times. I, too, deplore that unnecessary personal attack on the Director of Public Prosecutions. I would not be responsible for allowing any spin doctor to do that. Indeed, the reverse would be true.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman may take a great deal of comfort on liaison with the police. Joint units are complicated and need to be carefully worked out, but they will require considerable discussion involving me, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Association of Chief Police Officers. I believe that they are the right way to prevent one side blaming the other—a practice which used to prevail much more than it does now, but which I have experienced dozens of times in court. I want to bring that to an end.

I want high-calibre chief Crown prosecutors in each of the 42 areas. We will do away with the 13 areas set up in 1993, which were approved by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. Although some advantages have obtained from that reorganisation, including the welding of a better national system, Sir lain Glidewell and his team have found, perhaps with hindsight, that it was a mistake. Whatever the intention, the system resulted in each area headquarters becoming an extension of the principal headquarters. Real devolution has not taken place, which is the defect of the previous reorganisation.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is absolutely right to say that resources have to be considered whenever there is a new arrangement regarding the police and the CPS. If the CPS takes more responsibility for managing cases after charge, including warning witnesses, comforting victims and matters of that kind, I believe cardinally—I have believed it all the years I have been a Minister—that no decision should be taken on the transfer of departmental responsibility without a decision at the same time about resources. It is no good complaining years later about lack of resources; the decision should be taken at the same time, as we have all learnt from experience. I am determined that that will happen.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman takes particular interest in speeding up justice. The object of the new arrangements is to streamline cases to avoid overlap and duplication and to shorten lines of communication between the investigator and the prosecutor.

There are detailed proposals on information technology. The Government are considering better means of ensuring a closer interface between various IT systems. When I was a young Minister in 1964, there were 12 gas boards and 12 electricity boards, and I took no comfort from the fact that each ordered its own computers. The situation has not changed a great deal, but we hope to do something about that, if very late in the day.

On the right hon. and learned Gentleman's point about our reporting six months late, I must say that we promised in "The Case for the Prosecution" that the report would be completed within a year of our taking office. Today is 1 June, so we are only a month after that date. I had hoped that it would be done earlier, and have from time to time indicated that it would be done earlier, but I do not believe that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has a great deal of room for complaint that we have missed the date by a month. Despite our hopes that it would be done more quickly, it was necessary that Sir lain and his team should carry out full consultation, and they have done so.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman asked for a debate in Government time. He knows that that is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, who will have heard his words.

Photo of Chris Mullin Chris Mullin Labour, Sunderland South

I endorse my right hon. and learned Friend's tribute to Dame Barbara Mills. Whatever has gone wrong in the Crown Prosecution Service, it would be quite wrong to blame her.

Has obstruction by the police played any part in CPS difficulties? My right hon. and learned Friend will recall that the police resolutely opposed the independent prosecution service when it was first set up.

Would the CPS's problems be alleviated if its lawyers had rights of audience in the higher courts? When Dame Barbara Mills last came before the Home Affairs Committee, she said that the Bar Council was being obstructive on that.

Does my right hon. and learned Friend have any plans to deal with returned briefs, a problem endemic in the criminal justice system? Lawyers discover, often at the last moment, that something more interesting or immediate has turned up, which leads to severe difficulties.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Attorney General, Law Officers' Department, Attorney General (Law Officers)

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's remarks because, as Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, he keeps a close watch on developments. When the CPS was set up there were difficulties between the police and the new organisation, but the whole idea of the new organisation was to separate investigation from prosecution. The independent reviewing of cases was the main reason for creation of the CPS. There were bound to be difficulties, but, in my experience the situation has improved enormously over the years. We want to build on that, and closer liaison and better machinery—the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell) attaches importance to it—will help us get over any remaining difficulty. There is a real need to speed up prosecutions as effectively and efficiently as possible. I hope that the Government can find the machinery to do so in these recommendations.

Sir Iain Glidewell and his team have commended what has already been done on limited rights of audience for the CPS. Further rights are a matter for my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor, who is concerned about that point.

The Home Affairs Committee, the National Audit Office and Sir lain have all written a great deal on the return of briefs. The CPS will have to consider that issue carefully and, although I do not detract from Sir lain's comments, there is a need for great improvement.

Photo of Mr John Burnett Mr John Burnett Liberal Democrat, Torridge and West Devon

We welcome the Glidewell report and congratulate Sir lain and his team. We hope that we will soon have an opportunity to debate this important matter in the House, but welcome the establishment of 42 areas that will have significant autonomy.

The Attorney-General will agree that justice must be seen to be done, and be open and accountable. When the CPS decides not to prosecute, will he ensure that it gives its reasons? We understand that the CPS has to work closely with the police, but it is vital that it should be independent of the police. That is a difficult balance. What safeguards does he propose in sensitive areas, such as prosecutions of police officers? How much work is being done by unqualified staff at the CPS? Is he satisfied that there are sufficient experienced, legally qualified staff not only to cope with the burden of cases but to do so efficiently and expeditiously? More than anything else, that would restore the morale of the CPS and the public's faith in it.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Attorney General, Law Officers' Department, Attorney General (Law Officers)

I have already dealt with the question of a debate.

I welcome the hon. Gentleman's comments on the areas, which we regard as important. That is why we decided on the matter within weeks of taking office. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I attach considerable importance to having chief constables responsible for areas that are coterminous with those of the chief Crown prosecutors. I believe that that is an important step.

Sir lain and his team considered decisions not to prosecute, or to downgrade an offence, closely. Such decisions are of public concern, and many hon. Members—I for one—receive letters from constituents on them. Unfortunately, the statistics and the evidence are not clear. The team said that there are suspicions that downgrading happens. It varies in respect of particular offences and of different areas. These are matters of concern, and further work needs to be done. As the hon. Gentleman said, it is vital that justice is seen to be done. Where someone has committed, or is alleged to have committed, an offence, he should be charged with an appropriate offence.

There is considerable emphasis in the report on unqualified staff, and qualified staff who hope to exercise their rights of audience in the Crown court, having adequate and proper training. I believe that they have an important role to play if they have such training.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody Labour, Crewe and Nantwich

My right hon. and learned Friend knows that the House feels that this report is long overdue. The service had become constipated, incompetent and sadly lacking in leadership. The sooner action is taken, the better. Can he assure us that the reorganisation back to local units that are truly responsive to local needs will be undertaken as soon as possible? Will there be an audit of the quality of casework undertaken by those units? Above all, can he assure us that the public will no longer be subjected to cases being allowed to drag on for five years before they are finally lost?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Attorney General, Law Officers' Department, Attorney General (Law Officers)

I know of my hon. Friend's concern with a particular case. I have written to her substantially about her very real concern. She knows my interest in the matter.

The intention is to implement the report as rapidly as possible. That is what we did by setting up the 42 areas and what I do today by announcing the chief executive. I did not deal with this in my reply to the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Sir N. Lyell)—I should have told him that, in the summer months, the new Director of Public Prosecutions will be appointed by open competition, following advertisement. We hope that he or she will be in place by the autumn.

I assure my hon. Friend that all the other facets of reorganisation will be done as soon as possible. We have taken all the steps possible, but I was anxious that we should have the evidence before moving further than establishing the 42 areas. Sir Iain has provided me with the evidence, chapter and verse, so that I can go on, in concert with my right hon. Friends, to ensure that we deliver the parts of the Glidewell report that we deem, on further consideration, to be right and proper. It is a very detailed, careful and well worked out report.

There are proposals for expanding and enhancing the Crown Prosecution Service inspectorate by having a lay chairman and lay members on the committee that will oversee it. We attach importance to that, as we did in opposition.

Photo of Elfyn Llwyd Elfyn Llwyd Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Northern Ireland)

The report has much to commend it. I welcome the references to integrated units. The Attorney-General mentioned that in the past there were—I believe that they are still current—some areas where relations between the police and prosecutors were not as good as they should have been. Implementing the integrated units will go far to ensure better co-operation and better quality of service all round. I was pleased by the report's reference to prosecutors coming in earlier in the process, thereby applying the prosecution guidelines earlier in the process. That, too, has much to commend it.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Attorney General, Law Officers' Department, Attorney General (Law Officers)

The hon. Gentleman has considerable experience in the criminal field— professionally, of course. [Laughter.] I knew that I would do that; it was not intended. Both as a solicitor and now as a barrister, he is well acquainted with the problems in the service. I accept and value his comments. There is a need for integration. The interface is better, but there is a need for improvement. Hence Sir lain and his team have set out distinct proposals that someone should take over the process of prosecution once the charge has been preferred. I hope that it will be done jointly between the police and the CPS, but the exact machinery needs to be considered carefully. I hope that it will achieve the aims that the hon. Gentleman has in mind. There is a need for improvement if we are to have speedy justice. That underlines his proposal, which I must reserve the need to consider, that the CPS, should take charge, if we approve of the proposal, of prosecutions earlier. I hope that that reassures him.

Photo of Mr Barry Jones Mr Barry Jones Labour, Alyn and Deeside

My right hon. and learned Friend was a distinguished Secretary of State for Wales in previous Administrations. How does his statement point to a much better service in Wales, especially in north-east Wales, where it has received criticism? Recent changes in magistrates courts have been controversial. I hope that the changes that he presages today will be less controversial. Can he confirm that Wales will not have American-style district attorneys?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Attorney General, Law Officers' Department, Attorney General (Law Officers)

Perhaps I may kill off that expression once and for all. I have no intention of having American-style district attorneys. I do not know where that came from and I am not the parent—or grandparent—of the description. They have quite different responsibilities. Some, if not all, district attorneys take part in the investigative process as well, and some are elected. I do not propose to go along that road any more than with the election of judges, which also takes place in many parts of the United States.

There are four police areas in Wales and there will be four chief Crown prosecutors in Wales. I am confident that the system in Wales will rise to the needs of the situation in exactly the same way as will the system in England.

Photo of Professor Ross Cranston Professor Ross Cranston Labour, Dudley North

May I congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend on the appointment of Sir Iain Glidewell so soon after the election? It was a key manifesto commitment and he implemented it quickly. Knowing Sir Iain, I am sure that his is a full report, but may I raise one matter that does not seem to have been dealt with so far—excessive bureaucracy? My casual observation in court suggests that it is an important problem and when I visited my local CPS in Wolverhampton, the staff seemed to have files running out of their ears. Does Sir Iain's report address that important problem and make recommendations about dealing with the excessive paperwork?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Attorney General, Law Officers' Department, Attorney General (Law Officers)

I agree with my hon. Friend—it was certainly my impression when I toured a few of the CPS branches before the election that lawyers would complain that far too much of their time was taken up in form filling. How far those forms are read at the end of the day I know not, but the Glidewell report makes it clear that 400 of the senior prosecutors—the senior lawyers in the CPS—devote only a third of their time to case advocacy and the preparation of cases, so there must be something wholly wrong. Sir lain has said—I commend that part of his report with great pleasure—that much greater autonomy should granted to the chief Crown prosecutors in each area and that while, obviously, the headquarters in London should have responsibility for standards, ensuring that resources are available and monitoring, there should be a great slimming down of unnecessary bureaucracy in a system that is undoubtedly over-centralised. I am confident that we can achieve that.

Photo of Mr David Lock Mr David Lock Labour, Wyre Forest

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for bringing the report before the House. As a former barrister who used to prosecute for the CPS in magistrates courts, I know not only that the amount of paperwork generated by each case is substantial, but that the law is complicated and the job that prosecutors do is extremely difficult. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that lawyers are better being lawyers and managers are better managing? I hope that he can tell us that the Glidewell report will ensure that, in future, lawyers and managers will each do what they do best and that we will get a better prosecution service as a result.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Attorney General, Law Officers' Department, Attorney General (Law Officers)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his remarks. The main ethos—the main thrust—of the Glidewell report is to ensure that lawyers do what they do best, which is prosecuting, and that managers play their part, which is an equally important part of the whole. After all, some people become lawyers because they want to practise the law, not because they want to practise management. My hon. Friend is right; there is an excessive amount of paper. Although it has been slimmed down over the years, there is more work to be done.

Photo of Andrew Dismore Andrew Dismore Labour, Hendon

I welcome my right hon. and learned Friend's commitment to employing a chief executive for the Crown Prosecution Service. That mirrors recent experience in private practice in large solicitors firms, which have been effective in appointing chief executives, so freeing lawyers' time for lawyering rather than managing. Allowing lawyers to do lawyering is probably one of the best ways of raising morale in the CPS, because it allows them to get on with the job for which they were trained. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that unqualified CPS staff are every bit as valuable as qualified staff and that, in many cases, unqualified staff with a lot of experience can do the job as well as, if not better than, qualified people?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Attorney General, Law Officers' Department, Attorney General (Law Officers)

The chief executive will play an important part in the future administration of the CPS and, as I said, I hope that he or she will be in post before the end of the week. Undoubtedly, and regrettably, morale has been low. That problem has been ignored over the years. Surveys that have been carried out—disagreed with by some and agreed with by others—have a common ground of highlighting low morale in the service. I believe that our proposals will be warmly welcomed.

As regards unqualified staff, I am old enough to remember the senior managing clerks who used to play a formidable role in the Inner London quarter sessions and all the other courts; they knew far more about the law and practice than many lawyers and I attached great importance to their role. There is an important role in the CPS for unqualified staff with proper training and standards. I want to ensure that both go hand in hand.