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Wednesday 28 July 2021

Justice cannot be reliant on goodwill, says FDA

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The FDA has voiced concerns that courts can open for longer under ‘temporary operating hours’, as confirmed by the Ministry of Justice. 

National Officer for CPS Duncan Woodhead said: “While we welcome the government’s recognition that the Criminal Justice System case backlog must be cut, we are concerned about how it’s going to achieve this. Announcing that Court sittings and hours will just be extended may make a good headline, but the reality is far more complicated."

"For years the FDA has argued for greater funding of the CPS, to provide the right technology and number of staff to ensure that justice can be done", he explained. "Many years of under-funding has led to unsafe and almost unbearable caseloads on prosecutors operating within a Service already reliant upon goodwill to get the job done. Under-funding, unprecedented levels of multimedia, social media and telephone data evidence to process, plus the pressures of the pandemic with many staff self-isolating has pushed the CPS near breaking point.

Woodhead said that while "prosecutors will do always do their best to deliver, justice cannot be reliant on goodwill. The government must commit to properly fund the service – to prevent the collapse of the Criminal Justice System we must ensure that lawyers see the CPS as a good place to build a career, rather than leaving for better reward and conditions elsewhere".

He added that “the FDA will be involved in any conversations relating to members increasing their working hours”. 

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