Today I challenged the Attorney General on whether the new Director of Public Prosecutions will receive sufficient resources to make sure that the recent problems about prosecution disclosure of evidence in criminal cases gets sorted.
Over the past year we have seen the very concerning impact of the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) failing to deal with disclosure of evidence properly. In 2017 over 900 cases collapsed or were withdrawn due to the failure by the CPS to disclose evidence that might have assisted the defence’s case. This is an increase of 70% on the previous year. This is leading to a greater risk that innocent people aren’t being provided with evidence that would exonerate them and trials of individuals who might be guilty are collapsing unnecessarily. The new Director of Prosecutions will need to fix this defective culture quickly but will only be able to do that if the money and resources are there. We have had 3 reviews on disclosure in the last 7 years and still the CPS are struggling to get a grip of the problem. The number of completed trials has fallen by 150,000 in the last 3 years.
I was disappointed that the Attorney General Minister couldn’t give a clear commitment in response. I don’t doubt his sincerity in wishing to deal with the problem, but the numerous issues in our justice system can be traced back to the government spending cuts. You can’t administer justice on the cheap.