Meeting with the Chief Inspector of Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate: 14 March
Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate inspects the work carried out by the Crown Prosecution Service and other prosecuting agencies. They are responsible for assessing the quality of prosecution decisions and legal processes as well as the quality of management and planning in the organisations they inspect.
Meeting Date: 14 March 2017
VPS Liaison Units and Prosecutors
The Victims’ Commissioner (VC) asked the Chief Inspector about any plans to review the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) Victim Liaison Units or the new CPS practice that prosecutors always speak to victims at court.
The Chief Inspector explained that the aim was for HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) to inspect all the CPS Areas except London over a two-year period under the Area Assurance Programme (AAP). CPS London and Headquarter casework divisions would be inspected in the third year, so that at the end of his tenure there was an overall picture of CPS performance. The above inspections require most of the inspectorate’s resource, so thematic work on victims and witnesses is unlikely in the next two years. The Chief Inspector emphasised that CPS’s treatment of victims and witnesses are examined under AAP methodology and forms a section of these reports.
There was discussion on how communications with victims, in particular letters, could be improved. The VC and Chief Inspector agreed that standard letters could often be enhanced if staff were able to personalise them by adding information specific to the victim concerned. Staff welcomed the opportunity to do this as it added value to their role.
HMCPSI is currently carrying out a joint inspection of stalking and harassment with HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, which has significant victim and witness involvement; and a review of the Transforming Summary Justice initiative, which also includes an assessment of the treatment of victims and witnesses.
Next year there will be a joint inspection of modern slavery and human trafficking, which is likely to have a major victim and witness emphasis.
A joint inspection of hate crime has been proposed for next year as well.
The VC welcomed these reviews and is keen to see the final inspection reports.
The Chief Inspector asked the VC for her views on concentrating on a review about domestic violence. The VC said she was focusing on domestic violence and domestic abuse at the moment. Her recent visits to Police and Crime Commissioners had brought her into contact with victims of domestic violence and abuse. She had also responded to the recent announcement from the Prime Minister that the Government planned to review legislation in this area so that it would be easier to enforce.
The VC was keen that HMCPSI should undertake a review of these areas. The Chief Inspector suggested that the VC could assist HMCPSI by feeding into inspections such as domestic violence, particularly during the scoping exercise.
There was also discussion on HMCPSI staff and staff from the VC office spending short periods of time in each other’s office to expand their experience. It would also assist in developing a better joint understanding of the work each organisation does and how the two offices may collaborate.