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THE CROWN Prosecution Service and the The Association of First Division Civil Servants (FDA) are at loggerheads over claims by the lawyers' union that senior prosecutors are for the first time facing compulsory redundancies.
Last week, the FDA's CPS convenor Kevin Goodwin told The Lawyer that senior management had "made it known" that they were considering compulsory redundancies for senior prosecutors in the central casework section, which handles the most complex criminal cases.
He described the move, which is being vigorously denied by the CPS, as "a profoundly disturbing development with potentially very damaging implications for law and order".
He also said it was "at odds" with the new attorney general's commendable attempts to rapidly restore some morale among CPS lawyers.
He said: "We are therefore pressing for an immediate meeting with the Director of Public Prosecutions, Dame Barbara Mills QC, bearing in mind the new government's policy of openness and fairness in the work place."
The FDA maintains the redundancies threat is part of a review of central casework which is based at the CPS headquarters at Ludgate Hill in London and could potentially affect 17 senior grade six prosecutors.
But the union's claim has been categorically denied by the CPS. A spokeswoman said there were ongoing plans to reduce the number of staff at CPS headquarters by 150 over the next two years but only voluntary redundancies were being considered.
She reiterated a pledge made two weeks ago by the solicitor general, Lord Falconer QC, that the role of CPS headquarters, where central casework is based, would be a feature of a forthcoming independent review of the service.
"The role of headquarters is one of the questions the review will tackle," she said.