Legal – Report slams CPS’s practices

A shake-up in financial accounting at the Crown Prosecution Service was demanded in a highly critical report this week.

The wide-ranging report, drawn up by a committee chaired by Sir Ian Glidewell, which condemns the CPS? existing accounting practices, was broadly accepted by Attorney General John Morris, QC.

It calls for the installation of a new, but conventional, costing system for the CPS, including time-recording by caseworkers and lawyers – similar to systems standard in most solicitors? offices – to show where and why money is spent.

The report says: ?In common with other government departments, the CPS is moving to resource accounting in the near future, which for control purposes cannot come a moment too soon. There are no cost centres below branch level so, for example, there is no separate accounting for the cost of reviewing cases of advocacy in the magistrate?s courts or of servicing the Crown Court.?

The report is scathing of the recent introduction of ?activity costing? – an attempt to calculate a standard cost for each type of case – because there is no system for measuring actual costs except at a total level and does not show where costs turn out to be more than standard.

The report also says the system lacks transparency and will fail to enable the CPS to allocate budgets more fairly.

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