Local Prosecution Service Among Worst in London

Only 83% of Magistrates' Court cases successful

Hammersmith and Fulham's Crown Prosecution Service has one of the worst conviction rates in London, according to a new report by HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate.

The report assessed their overall performance in 2009 as poor and identified 13 areas which required improvement.

Prosecutors' performance was also judged to be poor in six out of ten categories - decision making, preparation and progression in both magistrates' and crown court cases; prosecution of cases at court; serious violent and sexual cases and hate crimes; the service to victims and witnesses and managing performance to improve.

This meant Hammersmith and Fulham achieved the worst score in the capital, alongside Brent, Enfield and Lewisham.

In magistrates' court, just 83% of cases were successful in 2009 compared to a London wide average of 86%, though there was more success in the crown court where the service had a 74% success rate, slightly better than the London average of 73%.

The report says that as of November last year, the service employed 17 people and had a budget of just over £1 million.

Hammersmith and Fulham became a separate unit in March last year, after being part of a team with Kensington and Chelsea. Since that split however, the report says the borough has struggled to have any sense of stability, with a signifcant reduction in the number of lawyers and long term sickness causing caseworkers to work at 50% of their full capacity.

However, the report praised the people working for the service saying: " The borough has some committed professional staff who demonstrate goodwill through working additional hours and remedying defects in casework at the last minute where they are able.

"Spirits remain good among most of the staff in circumstances that should be demoralising."

The service has recently moved to Hammersmith Police station and David Cawthorne, the borough's current crown prosecutor said: " I am hopeful this report will signal the way forward.  The inspectorate's findings make clear what aspects of our work need to be improved.

" My team and I are dedicated to prosecuting thoroughly crimes committed in Hammersmith and Fulham, ensuring that offenders are brought to justice and that the people of the borough have confidence in their Crown Prosecution Service."

March 18, 2010