THE HEAD of the region’s prosecutors has promised to take better care of crime victims following a damning report.
Inspectors revealed earlier this year that Thames Valley Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was one of the worst performing in the country.
Adrian Foster, who took over as chief crown prosecutor for the CPS in Thames and Chiltern in January, has told the Oxford Mail one of his priorities is to put victims and witnesses at the heart of everything the unit does.
The inspection report published in February revealed that the Thames Valley unit was ranked 41st out of 42 units in either not getting a guilty plea or a conviction at a trial for magistrates’ cases, and was ranked 38th in crown court cases.
The unit was also ranked the worst for its rate of discontinuing domestic violence cases.
Mr Foster said: “Coming in with a fresh pair of eyes has really allowed me to look a the problems afresh and the report is really useful from my point of view.”
And he added: “All our cases rely on the victims or witnesses coming forward to give evidence, so we need to better support them to come forward, to come forward to the police and to better support them through the criminal justice system.
“That is going to be our focus.”
The latest figures show the unit has made a slight improvement and is now ranked 24th for crown court performance but still 41st at magistrates’. The domestic violence discontinuance rate rank has also improved and is now 37th.
The top prosecutor said the unit had turned its focus on to sorting guilty plea cases out quickly, leaving it with more time to work on cases going to trial.
He said his other main goals were to make sure staff had the skills and tools to do their jobs properly and make sure they made good, quick decisions.
But he said the unit had not let victims of crime down and said his staff had always been dedicated.
Mr Foster added he had reorganised managers to have a better overview of what the staff were doing.
PRAISE FOR POLICE APPROACH
- A Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary inspection last month praised Thames Valley Police’s approach to dealing
- with domestic violence victims.
- But Mr Foster said the CPS was not letting victims down, adding: “We are working very hard with the police to get the very best evidence to the court and allow the victims to give evidence to the court.”
- Mr Foster’s position covers Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Berkshire, and Buckinghamshire.
- He became Head of Operations for the CPS nationally in 2010 before becoming deputy chief crown prosecutor for London in June 2013.