The Crown Prosecution Service has begun a major recruitment drive to deal with an ‘exceptional’ growth in complex cases.

Last year the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, warned that a growing caseload of sexual offences with not-guilty pleas was hindering attempts to cut delays in the court system. Sexual offence trials spend an average of 104 weeks in the court system compared with 27 weeks averaged by all criminal cases.

A CPS spokesperson told the Gazette today that it is seeking to recruit at least 100 prosecutors ‘following an exceptional increase in the number of cases in complex areas such as rape and sexual offences.'

The spokesperson said the final figure recruited would be established ‘through careful analysis of our caseload in each part of the country’. Applications are invited from solicitors, barristers and qualified legal executives. Starting salaries range from £31,992 to £36,791 for senior posts. 'This targeted recruitment in response to a significant change in our caseload will ensure we have the specialist skills to continue to provide a high-quality service,’ the spokesperson said.

Applicants are asked to list up to five main practice areas such as general crime, sexual offences, fraud, extradition, asset forfeiture and confiscation, regulatory work, terrorism, serious crime, and other areas of law such as family or civil, and detail an approximate percentage of time spent in each area.

They are also asked to provide evidence of specialisms in which they have experience of or have an interest in, including rape, extradition, fraud (including fiscal fraud), organised crime, proceeds of crime, serious violence and murder, serious sexual offences, regulator work, family work and immigration.