“Court case blunders are blamed on Crown Prosecutors” reported The Times recently. The CPS Inspectorate, which spends its time checking the competence of the CPS, found that mistakes were being made in 7% of cases. Of the 900,000 cases taken to the Crown Court every year , 63,000 should never have been brought or were wrongly dropped.
The boss of the Inspectorate said that there is “.. no doubt that cases will have been lost through poor quality advocacy.. if mistakes are made.. then this is very damaging. The CPS is a public service when that [cases not properly prosecuted] does not happen the consequences are far reaching..”
As regards CPS lawyers the Inspectorate found that they were less likely to be well prepared for trials than they were when inspected two years previously. However, criminal barristers in private practice i.e. not employed by the Government – had improved their standards over the last two years, with the Inspectorate assessing more as being “above average” as opposed to “below average” for CPS lawyers!
Comparable figures for CPS performance in the Magistrates’ Court were not mentioned and therefore one can only speculate. However, if the CPS are making these sort of blunders in the most serious case in the Crown Court, then one can hazard an educated guess at what is happening in the Magistrates’ Court; where most of the work is far less serious and most of that is motoring and speeding prosecutions! Moreover, many of the prosecutors in these courts are not CPS lawyers but less highly qualified staff.
I simply report the statistics and what the Inspectorate says. You will have your own views, as an ordinary member of the public and taxpayer, about this state of affairs. However, if you have just received a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) and section 172 notice (forcing you, as registered keeper, to name the driver), or are facing a speeding ticket or possible speeding fine, then you may take the view that it would be wise to speak to a motoring lawyer – as is your right – before you do anything!