The UK prosecutor will be handed an extra £85m in funding as part of the Prime Minister’s crackdown on crime, Downing Street said this evening.
Boris Johnson has awarded the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) the tranche of funding to help it build capacity and manage its caseloads over the next two years following a string of negative headlines around the collapse of high-profile rape cases in the past year.
The package comes alongside pledges from the Prime Minister to create an extra 10,000 new prison places, extend police powers of stop and search and recruit an extra 20,000 police officers.
The Solicitor General, Michael Ellis QC MP, welcomed the funding injection.
“The CPS is a demand-led organisation and so the additional £85m will ensure they continue to be equipped to deal with an increase in cases brought to them by the police, including the extra 20,000 police officers,” he said.
Louise Hodges, head of criminal litigation at Kingsley Napley, told City A.M. that the CPS has been stretched by a 34 per cent decline in its budget from 2008 until last year, alongside an “explosion of digital evidence”.
“That tension has led to the well-publicised disclosure failings in rape cases and concerns about the increased risk of miscarriages of justice,” she said.
“The increase in funding will assist in employing more lawyers but will not solve the current situation especially given recent cuts to the court infrastructure and estate.”
She added: “It is also unclear whether this is a one-off payment or a more long term investment or how this fits with a ‘system-wide approach to cracking crime’.
“The criminal justice system has seen its funding nose-dive during the era of austerity with everything from police to probation, courts to judiciary, prisons to legal aid suffering enormous cuts. Only with a truly radical re-think and injection of funding throughout the system will there be any hope of salvaging what was once a criminal justice system that was the envy of the world.”
Chris Henley QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “The Criminal Justice System is severely underfunded, as a result of relentless cuts over the last 10 years. Any change to that direction of travel is to be welcomed.
“The CPS is desperately in need of significant investment to improve its capacity to deliver effectively for the public, but this has to be seen as modest first step in the rebuilding process.
“Far more will be needed across the system including more substantial sums to the entire prosecution system and the Ministry of Justice including the courts service, to restore public faith in our criminal justice system where increasingly those who commit crime walk free and the innocent risk being convicted.”