The Crown Prosecution Service has endured more than its fair share of knocks since its inception. It was probably the only reverse privatisation to come out of the Thatcher years and the intentions behind its creation were admirable. After concern over the mishandling of prosecutions justice needed a new start, and the CPS was the result.
Unfortunately, it has not turned out to be the hoped for success. Initially under-funded it tried to recruit talented lawyers while offering the lowest salaries around. Inevitably, it did not attract those it most needed.
And until the current charade over rights of audience is resolved, there will always be problems for its employees, not least among them the lack of a decent career structure.
Over the years, however, matters had gradually improved and there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Unfortunately, that light has turned out to be a train coming the other way. The CPS budget is to be cut and redundancies are being tabled. Heaven knows what idiot dreamed up that idea. We are blessed with a Home Secretary hell bent on putting more people in prison than ever before, and that must mean even more prosecutions. Those prosecutions, one would have thought, would require more, not fewer prosecutors.
There may be some hidden agenda which explains it all, but constant press reports point to cases being poorly prepared and court appearances missed, all through lack of time. So it beggars belief that we now need less prosecutors.
If this country wants a half-decent prosecution service, it needs an adequate number of well-trained prosecutors who are motivated and highly skilled. It does not need letters asking for volunteers for redundancy when those asked cannot even cope with the volume of work they have in hand. At the very least this initiative will kill off motivation and destroy confidence. Once again the CPS will be denigrated and those in it will feel abandoned.
The Treasury will shrug its shoulders and look the other way and the media will blame those at the coal face who are powerless to respond.
All lawyers should be concerned over these developments. The performance of the CPS reflects on all of us, no matter how distant from the prosecution process we may feel. CPS staff are our colleagues, and they undertake a responsible job without much appreciation, even by those who employ them.
Am I alone in my feelings of unease as this scenario unfolds? Am I the only one who notices how crucial the CPS is?