Beleaguered CPS faces shake-up

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A MAJOR shake-up of the much-criticised Crown Prosecution Service is expected today, with the release of a long-awaited report by the former judge Sir Iain Glidewell.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Dame Barbara Mills, announced 10 days ago that she was stepping down early but insisted the move was nothing to do with the imminent publication of the report by Sir Iain, a former Court of Appeal judge.

His year-long study is thought to be highly critical of senior management at the CPS and is reported to suggest splitting the functions of the DPP into two.

A new post of chief executive would be created to take over the administration and running of the service, leaving the DPP to concentrate on the core work of prosecution decisions and policy.

Downing Street yesterday refused to be drawn into speculation over who would be appointed to the post. It has been suggested that Mark Addison, the former private secretary to Baroness Thatcher, was likely to take control.

The Attorney General, John Morris, has already signalled that he will restructure the CPS's existing 13 regions into 42, each one matching a police constbulary area. Each would be headed by a chief Crown prosecutor - modelled on the United States District Attorney system - who would be expected to build up a much closer working relationship with police locally.

Detectives have been strongly critical of what they saw as a CPS reluctance to prosecute cases which stood a good chance of conviction.

One Police Federation official dubbed it the Criminals Protection Society.

Recent initiatives to improve co-operation between the two services have included posting CPS lawyers to police stations full-time to advise officers on successfully taking cases to court.

Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, said recently the Glidewell report would identify "potentially beneficial changes in the way the CPS work with the police and other agencies". But Sir Iain has also had to tackle the problem of morale among CPS staff.

A recent poll by a trade union of members within the service found lawyers were committed to their work but demoralised by a top-heavy management culture, excessive workloads and a huge administrative burden.