The Crown Prosecution Service and us working together to bring offenders to justice. That has a lovely ring to it but I've never found us to be singing from the same hymn sheet. I think that most police officers see the CPS as one of the main causes of increased paperwork, leading to the inevitable result of dodgy NFA or dumbed down charges after charging advice.
Not totally their fault of course, they have to apply the Prosecutors Code and take into account the public interest so would need to see as much possible evidence at the outset to reach a decision. This means in reality massive case files being completed so they can write loads to justify their decisions. I might be a tad cynical however there appears to be an agenda to keep things simple charge wise and out of the Crown Court where possible.
The first time I encountered the CPS charging was over a knife possession where everything had to be faxed off to a lawyer sat in the back of beyond. It was something I as custody officer would have charged as offensive weapon straight off, it being a proper hunting knife. Two hours later the advice came back to charge as points and blades (lesser charge). Waste of two hours there then over something that would have usually taken two minutes. They would have always changed the charge at court to points and blades to get a plead in any event.
We haven't helped ourselves in the past by charging people only to bring incomplete investigations to court where the CPS have had little option but to pull the prosecution due to the lack of a vital statement. I'm pretty certain that there has been a massive percentage decline in discontinued cases since they took over the charging authorisations. Hooray for that target being met but has justice been done in the long run?
The CPS lawyer in the station system soon fell into disrepute, when they were there but unavailable except on an appointment basis bar remand cases. These slipped back later and later until it was a pointless exercise. If you got a weary one most people would wait until they went off home anyway to use the out of hours system where you stood a chance of something more than NFA. They just got snowed under by the paperwork in the end.
It's good to see that some charging responsibility is coming back to the police. It's for summary only cases but will there now be a temptation for us the police to down grade charges ourselves to keep away from CPS and speed things up a bit? It makes sense for the CPS to stick to the serious or complicated cases, but why can't we have the simple theft either-way cases back too? All cases will still get reviewed by the CPS who will have the final say on if they get pulled or not before reaching court.
We rarely got it wrong when we charged in the past and hopefully now with dedicated prisoner processing units the paperwork standards on individual cases will be better too. This is a step in the right direction and will help somewhat. I stated last year that I had noted a sea change from above and now slowly things are actually changing.