CPS agents' work shows further drop

PRIVATE lawyers' work from the Crown Prosecution Service continues to fall, according to the latest CPS annual report.

The figures show that the proportion of half-day sessions covered by agents in private practice in 1994/95 was 13.4 per cent, compared to 15.9 per cent for the previous year.

The CPS was hoping for a more drastic reduction to 10 per cent but says the situation was affected by the transition to 'team working', where prosecutors and caseworkers work in teams at branch level, and take responsibility for cases through to their conclusion. Team working, is being introduced in all CPS areas between now and the end of 1996, says the report.

It also says devolution of head office functions is continuing, with increasing amounts of fraud work handled by the 13 CPS areas. The fraud division will still handle the most serious cases at head office.

CPS actual expenditure in 1994 to 95 was £291 million, saving £8 million on a budgeted £299 million. Of the total, 22 per cent went on counsel's fees, two per cent on private lawyer agents, four per cent on extra prosecution costs such as witness expenses, with the rest on general running of the service.