The chief inspector for the Crown Prosecution Service has today described as ‘disappointing’ the prosecuting body’s failure to fully address two recommendations made in 2021 on handling custody time limits (CTL).
An inspectorate report in 2021 found that use of CTL case progression logs was inconsistent. It recommended that details of the action taken on a case at the 28-day review period should be noted on the CPS’s case management system, not just in weekly assurance reports.
However, according to the findings of a follow-up inspection, only 15% of logs are being kept up to date, down from 40% in the December 2021 report. The CPS was recording details of the action taken at the 28-day review date in the CMS in only 35% of cases.
Chief inspector Andrew Cayley CMG KC said it was ‘disappointing’ that two of the recommendations made in the 2021 report have not been fully embedded into CPS processes.
Cayley said: ‘There were some aspects of this work that we identified the CPS did well. But we made three recommendations to encourage the CPS to make improvements in their systems to support the handling of custody time limits.
‘Ensuring cases that involve those in custody who are awaiting trial are managed properly is essential if the public and victims are to be protected. As the number of cases with custody time limits continue to grow, it is extremely important that these cases are progressed in accordance with the law. That is why I am calling on the new DPP, Stephen Parkinson, to immediately review my inspectors’ latest findings and implement our recommendations as soon as possible.’
Defendants are currently subject to custody time limits in more than 10,000 cases – some 2,700 more than pre-pandemic levels.
A CPS spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to maintaining the highest standards in our management of custody time limits and this report recognises that it continues to be a priority for us amid rising numbers of cases. Despite the challenging context, there are still improvements to be made and we will work closely with senior leaders to embed the correct processes in line with the report’s recommendation.’