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CPS Response to the HMCPSI Inspection Report in Relation to Serious Youth Crime

Publication, Youth crime

HMCPSI have today (5 March 2020) published a report into the work of the CPS in relation to Serious Youth Crime.

We welcome this helpful report and the recommendations made.  Inspectors acknowledge the work that is underway to tackle a number of the issues identified.

We are pleased that Inspectors noted that our compliance with the Code of Crown Prosecutors in youth cases was excellent, at 98.9% of cases examined. We accept, however, that more needs to be done to address the quality of charging advice, and to improve our performance in relation to our disclosure obligations. Steps are already being taken to address both of these across all of our business. We will continue to focus on improvements to policy, guidance, and training, and also to ensure that good practice is replicated across all CPS Areas.

We recognise the importance of the effective handling of serious youth crime and are committed to taking action to address all of the issues raised in this report.

Inspectorate’s Recommendations for CPS

1. CPS Headquarters should review the criteria for being an approved youth offender specialist, with particular reference to the requirement to make regular court appearances, and how that can be fulfilled within the team structures usually employed by CPS Areas.

CPS Response:
The role of Youth Offender Specialists and the guidance in the Youth Offender Legal Policy are already under review.

2. CPS Headquarters needs to ensure that there are minimum requirements of the role of Area youth justice co-ordinators (AYJCs) which are clearly set out and implemented in Areas.

CPS Response:
The role of the AYJC is already under review and new guidance will be published in the Youth Offender Legal Policy.

3. Each CPS Area needs to ensure that their Area youth justice co-ordinator is qualified as a youth offender specialist and is fully engaged with their duties in the role.

CPS Response:
We will ensure that our AYJC are all trained as youth offender specialists and AYJC activity will be promoted and monitored nationally and best practice shared.

4. CPS Headquarters must ensure that specialist youth training is delivered to all those dealing with youth work, and that training, guidance and policy are and remain up to date, comprehensive and relevant.

CPS Response:
The Youth Specialist Course has been updated and is available for prosecutors who undertake Youth casework.

5. CPS Headquarters should produce specific youth performance data and direct thematic formal quality assurance (using the current IQA scheme) consistently to drive improvement in youth casework.

CPS Response:
CPS Headquarters will ensure that youth crime performance data is produced and discussed as part of the Area Performance Review regime.

6. Area and CPS Direct managers should ensure that all prosecutors giving charging advice or conducting youth cases have refreshed their knowledge of policy and guidance. Areas should monitor compliance at and after charge.

CPS Response:
CPS Headquarters will ensure that youth guidance and training are available to Areas and Areas will be required to monitor compliance. 

7. CPS Headquarters should clarify the expectations of youth cases to ensure that prosecutors have sufficient time to review and prepare them for trial.

CPS Response:
Our legal guidance has been refreshed and our resource model will be reviewed. We will also ensure that new prosecutors joining the service receive training for dealing with youth matters.

8. CPS Areas should ensure that any advocate deployed to a youth court has had sufficient training and experience to deal with matters that are listed in or may be moved into that court and time to prepare adequately.

CPS Response:
External advocates will be expected to provide assurance of their capability and experience and all internal advocates will complete our refreshed youth training.  Our Legal Guidance is available to both.

9. CPS Areas should put in place and keep updated a clear strategy for prioritisation of youth work to ensure that it is dealt with expeditiously.

CPS Response:
CPS Areas will be asked to put a strategy in place to ensure that youth work is appropriately prioritised.

Crown Prosecution Service

5 March 2020

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