Make child abuse pilot national, says CPS

THE CPS is to press for a pilot project that fast-tracks child abuse cases to be adopted nationally.

The scheme has been running in the South West since 1995 and has seen the time it takes for cases involving child witnesses to get to court halved from 260 days to around 130.

At the launch of the CPS annual report, Ann Reddrop, the branch crown prosecutor at Exeter, admitted the service in her region had adopted an “unco-ordinated approach” to child abuse cases before the pilot.

She said it was essential that cases involving child witnesses reached the court quickly, both to minimise the trauma for the witnesses and to ensure their memories remained fresh.

The pilot involved identifying cases that needed fast tracking and concentrating resources on them, she explained, adding that close co-ordination between the various agencies involved was also vital.

Graham Duff, director of casework services, said the CPS would be pressing for the scheme to be adopted nationally, although he stressed it could only go ahead with the cooperation of other bodies, such as the police and the courts.

Launching the CPS annual report, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Dame Barbara Mills QC, defended the record of the service and maintained that it would be able to absorb a substantial cut in its budget.

This year the service has been allocated £283m. Last year it spent £300m.