At present only qualified lawyers, namely solicitors and barristers working for the CPS, can make a decision as to whether a criminal prosecution should proceed and then prosecute those cases in court.
At a time when there is heightened and grave concern about miscarriages of justice, the Review of Delay in the Criminal Justice System (The Lawyer, 4 March) published by the Home Office astonishingly recommends that these tasks could be performed by lay staff in the CPS who are not qualified lawyers.
This proposal would have the disastrous effect of removing the essential professional and ethical integrity which qualified lawyers bring to the prosecution of criminal cases.
Furthermore they qualify as solicitors and barristers by attaining standards and qualifications required by their own professional bodies before joining the CPS which ensures a complete independence in their conduct of prosecution cases.
The innate professional probity and independence of the CPS lawyers also enable them to resist ever-tightening budgetary constraints influencing their decision as to whether a case should be prosecuted.
The proposals in this review are, I am afraid, potentially good news for criminals, particularly those involved in serious and complex crime but very bad news for the law-abiding public.
The interests of justice and the effective maintenance of law and order demand that the CPS as a department and other interested bodies repudiate immediately these proposals and reaffirm that the public interest demands that only qualified lawyers should review and prosecute criminal cases.
The Association of First
Division Civil Servants