New scheme to improve justice system
A NEW scheme aimed at cutting delays in the criminal justice system and reducing the number of dropped cases is to be launched next week.From Monday, staff from Suffolk's Crown Prosecution Service will be on duty at Ipswich Police Station to provide officers with expert guidance on charging for all offences.
A NEW scheme aimed at cutting delays in the criminal justice system and reducing the number of dropped cases is to be launched next week.
From Monday, staff from Suffolk's Crown Prosecution Service will be on duty at Ipswich Police Station to provide officers with expert guidance on charging for all offences.
Police presently only seek advice from CPS lawyers on charging in more serious or complex cases.
The new system comes after a review of the criminal courts carried out by Lord Justice Auld and is seen as a key part of the current Criminal Justice Bill.
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It coincides with the launch of a new prisoner processing unit at Ipswich Police Station, to allow police officers to return to duty more quickly following the arrest of a suspect.
The unit will be staffed by police officers and will relieve front-line officers of jobs like interviewing suspects, arranging for photographs and fingerprints, and preparing files, once an arrest has been made.
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Suffolk's Crown Chief Prosecutor Chris Yule said the Ipswich pilot scheme followed five other ones across the country.
"In particular, the pilots have shown that good quality legal advice aimed at getting the charge right first time can help reduce delays in the justice system while cutting the number of cases which are discontinued – and increasing guilty pleas."
Chief Supt Geoff Munns, Suffolk Constabulary's southern area commander, added: "From our perspective, having the CPS alongside our custody suite and the prison processing unit will enable us to identify evidential weaknesses in cases at an early stage and thereby ensuring better case preparation at the earliest opportunity and improving standard of prosecutions and conviction rates."
Mr Munns said Ipswich has the busiest custody centre in Suffolk and is one of the largest in the region handling up to 7,000 detainees annually.
"The prisoner processing unit is an initiative designed to improve the quality of general investigation, the preparation of case papers and most importantly free up significant amounts of patrol time for front line officers.
"It will enable frontline staff to maximise their time on the beat, reassure the public and tackle crime rather than being bogged down in the station with paperwork," he added.
The scheme is due to be rolled out nationwide by the end of the year.