Leading Article: Crown prosecutors guilty as charged

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The Independent Online
GIVEN the importance that both main parties have, rightly, placed on law and order it is a matter for some concern that the political process has only now succeeded in forcing a report that confirms all our worst fears about the Crown Prosecution Service.

The ability of the service to do its job properly has been a matter of public concern for many years but, as with other bureaucratic bodies, the CPS and those who ran it seem to have placed a premium on protecting themselves from investigation and reform. Some years ago a staff survey showed that 68 per cent of those who worked for it were dissatisfied with their jobs. This would have been defensible had the CPS been embarked on a painful programme of change designed to improve its effectiveness. It was not. The now departed Director of Public Prosecutions, Barbara Mills, seemed to spend more time in absurd bureaucratic adventures than in the workaday business of making the law effective. It is extremely sad that a body that, as Sir Iain Glidewell notes in his report, has the potential to become a lively, successful and esteemed part of the criminal justice system became instead a national joke. That it did is, ultimately, the fault of those politicians who allowed such a disgraceful state of affairs to persist under their noses. Successive Home Secretaries and Attorneys General have a good deal to answer for. The CPS desperately needs a new beginning that gaurantees its independence and gives it the resources and leadership it has lacked for so long.