Demoralised lawyers turn on Crown Prosecution Service

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The Independent Online
Crown Prosecution Service lawyers are "demotivated and demoralised" and hampered by bureaucracy from doing the front-line job of prosecuting criminals, according to a survey released yesterday.

More than half those replying to the Mori survey said they would like to leave the CPS, which has had a troubled 10-year history since it replaced local prosecuting authorities.

Professor Bob Worcester, Mori's chairman, said it showed "the highest negative scores we have ever measured in over 400 organisations", for the CPS as a place to work, for job satisfaction, credibility of information from management and workload.

The research was commissioned by the First Division Association (FDA), the senior civil servants' union representing two-thirds of the service's lawyers, after the Attorney-General, Sir Nicholas Lyell, decided against meeting representatives to discuss their concerns.

Kevin Goodwin, CPS convener, said that at a time when an ever increasing law-and-order programme was being added to the statute book, the CPS had had its budget cut and dozens of vacancies for lawyers were not being filled. Staff were still committed to an independent prosecuting authority but were "degraded, demotivated, demeaned and demoralised", while they felt they were running the service more in the interests of the bureaucracy than in the interests of fighting crime.

More than two-thirds of the 786 members who returned questionnaires said the CPS was below average or one of the worst places to work, and nine out of ten believed it had got worse since they joined. More than three- quarters believed the recent team-working initiative - when experienced prosecuting lawyers were given management jobs but according to the FDA were not replaced - had resulted in a worse service, while 91 per cent felt that speaking up when they disagreed with management could damage their career prospects.

Barbara Mills QC, Director of Public Prosecutions and head of the service, said yesterday she did not accept the FDA survey as fully representative. She referred to the CPS survey published last September, which, was based on a 62 per cent return rate, while the FDA survey represented 12 per cent of staff.

"Management have been aware for some time that there are some members of staff who are not satisfied with some aspects of their work ... These issues will be properly addressed when drawing up our plans for the future, to which we hope the FDA will contribute."

Yesterday's survey suggests deep-seated problems remain. Comments from respondents, who are paid pounds 20,000 to pounds 40,000, include: "Lawyers spend their time filling in forms and dealing with queries from Area HQ on matters such as why a mileage claim is a day late."