Well today has mainly been spent playing a game of chance. Not that I’m big in the betting game, but it is an occupational hazard that every now and then; more now than then I might add, myself and my colleagues have to play the CPS Lottery.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite as good as The National Lottery, or even the one that supports our local Hospice – with this one there’s absolutely no chance of me winning any money on it (not that there’s a much bigger chance on either of the other two to be honest !!
Having concluded weeks and weeks of thorough investigation, taken numerous statements, listened till I’m so bored I want to chew my own elbows off to the inane ‘he said, she said, he did, she did’ allegations and counter allegations of my suspects / witnesses (their specific roles vary depending on the day of the week let’s be honest), sat through hours of poor quality town centre CCTV in the vague hope of finding three seconds of relevant footage, I finally had the opportunity today of putting these cases before a CPS lawyer for a charging decision.
I cheated a bit, I must admit. As most officers know, unless you are dealing with a mass murder, the chances of getting a face to face appointment with a prosecutor are nil; nought; zero; dot. It’s all done by email and phone these days – and so I am reliably informed, all that will change for us in Bigtown again very soon. In a couple of months we will have to forward all our paperwork to some newly formed department called the Charge Review And Prosecution team (think about it, that’s actually what they are calling it and can’t understand the giggles) based where else than Headquarters, who will cast their daggers over all our hard work, trying to find any reason whatsoever to send it flying back at us, and if they can’t, and only if they can’t, they will submit the file for a charging decision.
However Cunning Chaos came to the forefront today when I was tasked to take a very important and urgent file to their office for immediate review. Upon delivering the said mega-important paperwork, I subtly asked the friendly young lady who came to greet me if there was any chance I could leave my files at the same time to go through ‘when they had time’
“No problem” she replied, “we’re not busy at all I’ll get them done today for you”. Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather, but I wasn’t going to argue. You, my dear reader, will never have seen Chaos run so quickly to the panda I abandoned on the car park outside and back, clutching reams of paperwork loosely stuck together and flapping in the wind, but I didn’t drop a sheet and gratefully handed my accumulated horror stories (or fairy tales if you prefer) over to the poor girl and ran …. quickly ….. okay I didn’t; I said “thank you very much” and walked off but that’s not as dramatic is it ?
I spent the rest of the shift in a state of suspended bliss. I had beaten the system; thought outside the box; jumped the gun. My day could not get any better. Okay it could – a pay rise would have helped; someone saying’ “wake up it’s all a dream, there’s no such thing as The Winsor Report, have you seen all the new recruits we’ve got” but there you go.
An hour or so before the end of the shift, I checked my email. The lady at CPS was right; they couldn’t have been that busy as all three files had been reviewed and the results emailed back to me actually within a couple of hours of me dropping off …. and by three different lawyers !!!
My overt and copious joy-ness couldn’t last however. Two out of my three submitted files I felt were rock solid, no way out, charge ‘em, jail ‘em, never let ‘em out jobs and yet each of the reviewing lawyers for these files had advised ‘No Further Action’. Heck, one of them had even had a partial admission in interview, but still that wasn’t enough to get the matter sent to court.
I mean, I know we are supposed to be saving money and reducing the pressure on the Courts, but call me old fashioned if you like. We still have a system in place where three fair and independent people (aka Magistrates) can listen to the facts from both sides, review all the evidence and make up their own minds. But if we never let them see the job in the first place ……..
The third file, which I must admit wasn’t the strongest case I’ve ever dealt with, but was reviewed by a different lawyer still, came back with one line. ‘Definite Realistic Proposition of Successful Prosecution. Charge’
So there you are. I’d played the CPS Lottery …. and won …. sort of. Well, what’s that old Meatloaf song – ‘One Out Of Three Ain’t Bad’ ?????