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Wednesday 05 December 2018

We can’t allow justice to become devalued

By Steven Littlewood

FDA National Officer Steven Littlewood responds to Max Hill QC's recent Justice Select Committee appearance.

The new Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill QC made his first appearance at the Justice Select Committee yesterday. His comments will resonate with many of our members in the CPS. In particular he has perfectly articulated what lawyers on the front-line see every day: while the number of cases are falling, case complexity and overall workloads are growing.

During his appearance yesterday, the director also highlighted the effects of rapid changes in communications technology on the CPS. FDA made clear in our submission to the Justice Select Committee earlier this year the huge demands this has made on prosecutors.

Finally, the Director made clear that the service cannot take any further cuts. Given that CPS prosecutor numbers have fallen by 28% since 2010, and 95.7% of the department’s prosecutors think the CPS does not have enough lawyers, this is a welcome intervention. All the more so given the constraints that senior figures are under in commenting on resourcing issues.

However, the FDA would go further than this. It is not simply a case of pausing cuts but of actively recruiting new lawyers. Yet if the CPS is to continue to attract and retain talented prosecutors it has to be able to offer a remuneration package that appeals to staff. In the latest Civil Service People Survey just 30% of CPS staff agreed with the statement “Compared to people doing a similar job in other organisations I feel my pay is reasonable”[1].

FDA members at the top of the pay scale have suffered a real term pay cut of over 20% since 2010. Newer recruits have no ability to meaningfully move up the scale and as a result are earning thousands of pounds a year less than colleagues doing identical work.

The FDA is calling on the government to increase pay in the CPS. It needs to ensure that the department can continue to attract lawyers and is properly resourced to protect the public and maintain their confidence. Legal wages are booming in the private sector, and in the face of this competition we need to preserve the criminal justice system.

We can’t allow justice to become devalued.

[1] Civil Service People Survey 2017

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