Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Secret memo reveals CPS in 'meltdown' with huge backlog of cases giving criminals 'get out of jail free cards'

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER UPDATED: 07:25 EST, 23 February 2010 Criminals are being handed 'get out of jail free cards' because of chaos in parts of the Crown Prosecution Service. A confidential memo written by a senior prosecutor in London warned that one CPS unit was in 'meltdown'. It described large backlogs of cases in the south-east London office and pointed to individual offenders escaping justice despite compelling evidence. The exasperated barrister, writing in July last year, said: 'I'm sorry to have to be blunt, but the unit is (in) meltdown... 'We are now in the ludicrous position of having open-and-shut cases dismissed; e.g. where the defendant was seen on CCTV to be placing tracksuits into a foil box! 'What's more we are at the total mercy of the local defence firms with regard to effective trials... 'Cases were five deep across the whole desk; they've now been "relocated" to the cupboard. Out of sight is out of mind I guess.' The email, published by the Independent, was sent eight months after the appointment of Keir Starmer QC as the new Director of Public Prosecutions and head of the CPS. More... Revealed: Member of gang that stabbed Matalan manager to death was on bail after killing boy, 17, in mobile phone robbery The author is withering about an email allegedly sent by Mr Starmer about the 'essence' of the service. He wrote: 'And to top it all off, I've just had a ridiculous email from the DPP about "Capturing the essence of the new organisation"... 'I can see stable yard... and the essence of this particular part of the organisation is currently being forked out of the horse boxes.' An email outlining a senior prosecutor's concerns was sent eight months before Keir Starmer was appointed Director of Public Prosecutions and CPS chief Last month a series of nine inspection reports into the CPS in London were published and none of the boroughs inspected achieved a rating of 'good'. Lewisham, Greenwich, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Redbridge were rated 'poor' and Bexley, Waltham Forest, Havering and Barking and Dagenham were rated 'fair'. The overall conviction rate in London is 72.7 per cent, compared with a national average of 80.6 per cent. Stephen Wooler, Chief Inspector of the CPS, said he had 'serious concerns' about the preparation of court files which was affecting conviction rates in the capital. A CPS spokesman said: 'This email was written by a lawyer who left the CPS before many of the recent improvements were introduced. 'It was written eight months ago, shortly after staff had moved into the police station, so it was a time of some upheaval. Our staff are now telling us that they are well settled in that location. 'Since that time we have been urgently working to improve our performance in the area and in London generally. 'We're recruiting more prosecutors and paralegal officers and have moved 45 members of staff to the front line to improve preparation of cases and to ensure hearings operate as smoothly as possible.'