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Prosecutors’ errors going unnoticed

Prosecutors’ errors going unnoticed

Some 7% of Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) cases are being wrongly discontinued or prosecuted because prosecutors are making “errors of analysis and judgment”. That is according to a review of standards in the CPS, which found prosecutors make errors in more than one in 15 cases, and their bosses fail to spot them.

Unit heads noticed just a quarter of erroneous cases, prompting inspectors to call for greater rigour and consistency in the quality of managers’ assessments. Just 19% of cases where there had been decision failures were spotted, and only nine of the 27 (33%) failures at later stages in the case were noticed.

Some 60 of the 861 cases examined failed the Code for Crown Prosecutors, the test all cases must pass to proceed at milestone stages. By failing to spot errors the “anxiety, inconvenience and distress to victims and witnesses” is increased, and those who should not be charged end up facing court, the inspectors found.

Michael Fuller, chief inspector of Her Majesty’s CPS Inspectorate (HMCPSI), said:

“Overall standards can only improve if the CPS uses a robust assessment process. Early indications are that the new scheme is bringing about a much-needed focus on quality.”

The scheme was rolled out in 2010.

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