Yesterday I spoke with a police officer in Greater Manchester Police. This Officer had been on duty recently and had a suspect in custody with the custody clock ticking. The officer had to ring CPS Direct for a charging decision. The officer was on hold for more than four hours.
Let’s understand that four hours a bit more. Four hours sitting at a desk, chained to the phone doing nothing but waiting. There were a fair few tasks that the officer could have been spending the time doing. Like policework.
It is fair to say the officer was extremely frustrated by the situation. I said to the officer, when you finally got through to someone, did you mention how long you had been waiting. “They know,” came the reply, “it’s not the lawyers’ fault.” The officer told me that this four hour wait is not uncommon.
The CPS have had their budget slashed mercilessly over the last several years, and the number of staff has gone down and down. We get the criminal justice we invest in.
Note: CPS Direct is a national service. Though the officer was a Manchester officer, the CPS lawyer could have been anywhere in the country.
Of course, all that time the suspect was in the cell, just sitting there doing nothing but waiting. Maybe you have sympathy for the suspect, too; maybe you don’t. But it’s not how things should be done.
Have you read this book yet ?