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Crown Prosecution Service praised for innovative response to Coronavirus pandemic
01 July 2020
THE CROWN Prosecution Service (CPS) has been praised for its response to the Coronavirus pandemic in a report published by Her Majesty’s CPS Inspectorate (HMCPSI). The document commends the organisation’s digital capability and strategic planning, noting how the pandemic has “acted as a catalyst for innovation, leading to significant beneficial changes”.
Almost overnight in mid-March, most of the CPS’ 6,000-strong workforce decamped from offices throughout the country to begin home working compared to just a few hundred staff who were already operating on a remote basis.
However, the CPS’ strategic foresight in upgrading its digital capabilities meant that all staff (including prosecutors) could continue their essential work with minimal disruption. This included the widespread and rapid roll-out of video technology and conferencing platforms, as well as training for lawyers in the new Cloud Video Platform software introduced by HMCTS.
The CPS has been also commended for its adoption of measures designed to maintain support for victims and witnesses. For example, prosecutors have set up remote links for bereaved families such that they can hear sentences being passed and be a part of this significant stage in the criminal justice process without putting themselves at risk.
In its report, HMCPSI asserts that relationships with the police have been effective and constructive, which is reflected in the significant increase in the more secure and efficient digital sharing of multimedia from forces.
Mark Gray, director of operations (digital and commercial) at the CPS, said: “The speed with which our working environment changed presented an enormous challenge and I’m immensely proud of how our staff have responded. The report authored by HMCPSI praises our immediate and effective response to the pandemic, which shows how committed and resilient the CPS workforce really is.”
Gray went on to state: “This crisis has shown that the CPS is flexible and can prosecute virtually wherever it’s appropriate to do so, helping all parties to remain safe and continuing our vital work in upholding justice. I genuinely believe the changes we’ve made will bring long-lasting benefits.”