Crown Prosecution Service to woo marginalised groups in new engagement strategy

The CPS is mounting a charm offensive to win the trust of groups it admits have lost confidence in the justice system.

The CPS strategy aims to reach groups such as Gypsies who have low confidence in the criminal justice system (pic credit: Mark Richardson/Alamy Stock Photo)
The CPS strategy aims to reach groups such as Gypsies who have low confidence in the criminal justice system (pic credit: Mark Richardson/Alamy Stock Photo)

A key way in which it is seeking to improve its relationships with minority groups is to become more diverse as an organisation, according to a new inclusion and engagement strategy.

The recently released strategy, which will run until 2020, was prompted by a review of the work of the CPS on engagement and inclusion. This found that the "CPS could do more to strengthen the link between national strategy and consistent local implementation".

Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, said: "A key message was the strong link between a diverse workforce and inclusive culture, and public trust and confidence in the CPS."

She added: "While we have a diverse workforce nationally, there is more we can do at all levels and in different geographical regions."

The new strategy aims to build trust in the CPS and improve the representation of certain groups at all levels in the organisation.

Targets include ensuring that 12 per cent of those in senior roles are from BAME backgrounds and having disabled employees comprising 8 per cent of the workforce.

The CPS has not set targets for increasing the proportion of female and LGBT workers as they "already exceed UK population comparisons at 54% and 8% respectively."

Writing in the foreword to the strategy document, Saunders said: "We commit to creating an inclusive working environment for all our people, to ensure that we fully reflect our communities."

The CPS needs to reflect an increasingly diverse population, according to the strategy.

The document stated: "Inclusion and community engagement go hand in hand, and will help us lead change in the criminal justice system, strengthen the prosecution process, promote justice and the rights of victims, and inspire confidence in the public we serve."

Some communities "have low levels of trust in the Criminal Justice System", which "stems from disproportionality in representation and sentencing, and issues such as deaths in custody", according to the strategy.

For instance, "BAME communities, children in care and the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community, may be less likely to support the prosecution process."

The strategy commented: "The CPS must be fair and transparent in communications with these communities and demonstrate fairness in the prosecution process."

Other groups in need of greater support when they are in the criminal justice system include younger people and those with learning disabilities, autism and mental health issues.

Developing national partnerships with other organisations and creating a national youth engagement panel are among the measures being taken by the CPS under the new approach. It will also "map communities and stakeholders in each Area, with a particular focus on communities and identifying opportunities for enhancing CPS reach".

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