Time for CPS to face facts
21 May 1996
The recent glut of articles and letters on the subject of the CPS which have appeared in The Lawyer (19 and 26 March, 16 and 23 April) have shown that relationships between CPS staff and higher management have broken down completely. Put bluntly, nobody in the CPS now believes a word that the DPP or CPS headquarters says.
Rather than Barbara Mills and Gordon Etherington complaining that documents leaked to me or The Lawyer have been misinterpreted, do not represent current policy, or were merely discussion documents, perhaps they should ask why it is that CPS staff are now willing to leak these documents and why they feel it is necessary to do so.
CPS lawyers are not Trotskyite militants - they are conservative (with a small 'c') types who have a strong awareness of the importance of confidentiality. They are also people with families and mortgages who know that if their identity is discovered they will lose their jobs.
For them to decide to leak these documents is a sign of the sheer desperation they feel over the way in which the service has been so badly mismanaged over the last few years.
Gordon Etherington is, I am sure, correct when he says the document leaked to The Lawyer is a discussion document and is correct that a "brainstorming session must consider all options even the most outlandish" (The Lawyer 23 April).
What is interesting is the outlandish ideas which were not considered. If someone had suggested "sack the DPP, close down CPS headquarters" that would not have ended up on the list and that person would not have improved their career prospects. The idea of sacking the DPP is, of course, a ridiculous and outrageous suggestion but no more outrageous than the suggestion that all CPS lawyers should be sacked, which was considered.
The blunt fact is CPS management cannot solve the problems of the CPS because CPS management is the problem.
If the problems of the CPS are to be addressed then the DPP and CPS headquarters have to accept their responsibility for those problems. The geographical reorganisation of the service was unnecessary and resulted in over-centralisation and insecurity. The introduction of National Operating Practice and "teamworking" were all ill-planned, badly organised and incompetently introduced schemes which caused massive disruption for minimal improvements.
The status of CPS lawyers as lawyers has been downgraded and their professional views ignored. The CPS has a glut of managers but no real leadership, has a mission statement but no sense of purpose, has an annual plan but no direction.
I write this with no joy. I still have a deep affection for the CPS, and on a personal level I like Barbara Mills. But Barbara and CPS management must face up to the fact that they do not have the confidence of CPS staff and they are to blame for that situation.
5 Garsdale Road
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