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Statement – HMCPSI inspection of CPS actions in the Valdo Calocane case

Responding to the HMCPSI report and its recommendations, the Victims' Commissioner issued a statement reflecting on the Chief Inspectors' findings.

His Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service HMCPSI) published its independent inspection into Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) handling of the Valdo Calocane case. 

The inspection found that the CPS complied with the law and met their obligations to the families. But the case also highlighted areas where the families could have been better supported during an incredibly difficult process.

The inspection noted that the families felt unsupported and secondary to the whole process and HMCPSI has suggested greater clarity is needed about the role of victims in the criminal justice system.

To improve future performance, HMCPSI has recommended that the CPS must undertake a review of all guidance relating to victims’ engagement to ensure that all staff are aware when use of the terms ‘consult’ or ‘consultation’ is appropriate by October 2024.

The Victim’s Commissioner for England and Wales, Baroness Newlove, said:

This was a horrific and brutal crime, and my heart goes out to the three families who have lost a loved one and the three surviving victims.

I know only too well the indescribable pain of losing a family member in such terrible circumstances; it takes time, compassion, and sensitivity in helping bereaved families come to terms with the enormity of their loss. It is important our justice system plays a key part in helping these families.

As Victims’ Commissioner, I am unable to comment upon individual cases. However, in his report the Chief Inspector raises wider issues that I believe are worth further consideration.

When defendants are quickly apprehended and placed in custody, the justice system can move very quickly, with police and prosecutors mindful of custody time limits and deadlines for submitting evidence. We all recognise the need for speedy justice, but this can often leave the bereaved feeling left behind as they struggle to cope with the inevitable trauma and grief arising from the crime. Is there more we could and should be doing to moderate the speed of case progression in response to the needs of those grieving?

Understanding the details of the crime and the decision-making process behind charges and sentencing can be crucial for bereaved families seeking closure. It is important legal concepts are explained carefully and victims are given time to reflect and come back if they have further questions. The system also needs to be clear in whether it is “advising” or “consulting” victims. All too often, when victims ask questions, they are met with a wall of silence, as the defendant’s data protection and right to privacy prevents a response. In cases of homicide, we need to ask ourselves the question: is the line in the right place?

The Chief Inspector highlights frustration regarding our statutory provisions for homicide, particularly the term “manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility”. He points to the Law Commissioner’s 2006 reform proposals and suggests that if those reforms had been accepted, the offender in these cases would likely have been convicted of “Second Degree Murder”. This highlights a critical gap I hope Ministers will reflect on this and explore whether the law should be changed so that the description of the offence better reflects its gravity.

It is of paramount importance that we strike the right balance between the rights of the defendant and the needs of the bereaved victims. This report raises important issues that warrant careful consideration.


Contact information

Thomas Cracknell
Head of Communications
07562 431727

Notes to editors