Police/CPS do not want to charge

I have pretty much come to the conclusion that the police and CPS are deliberately not charging people.  I have noticed a sharp decrease in charges since the credit crunch began so I can only assume that it has something to do with that.

For example, I have recently seen a case where two men were accused of robbery.  They were positively identified by one victim (a lone female whose purse and telephone were taken).  They were found in possession of the stolen property from the second robbery.  They gave an account that they just happened to chance across two robberies completely by co-incidence and that they found the stolen property from the second robbery.  Result: police NFA.

A while ago I saw a case where a boyfriend smashed his girlfriends face in, breaking her jaw and then raped her.  Result: CPS NFA.

Yesterday I saw a case where the suspect was found in possession of class A drugs while drunk in charge of a vehicle.  I can't quite believe how but, result: police NFA on drunk in charge and caution to drugs.

One man arrested at the door of his ex-partners home, seen by police to be drunk and shouting through the door as he tried to batter it down.  Police also witnessed him spit in the complainant's face.  Allegation of assault earlier in the evening.  Result: police NFA.

Over the Royal Wedding holiday we represented 33 suspects.  There was just one lonely charge.

Stratford Mags used to be one of the busiest courts about.  My first ever duty landed me with 14 clients.  At the start of this year the fewest duty clients I'd ever had there was 8.  The last few times I've acted as duty at Stratford I've not had a single punter.  Last week I had zero clients in the youth court and the courts were so quiet that they closed some court rooms and moved everything into a single court room!  Even the adult duty only had a single punter to deal with.

It seems to me that there are only three possible explanations.  First, the solicitors at my firm are of such unrivaled excellence that the prosecutors just fall down in fear at the mention of their names.  Secondly, the police are arresting a LOT of people who are completely innocent.  Or thirdly there is some edict from on high aimed at reducing the numbers of people ending up in court to reduce costs.

If any police officers or CPS staff have a view about what is happening I would be delighted to hear it.

Comments

  1. Interesting post DB.

    As a PC I'd have to ask are you sure the decisions you indicated were Police NFA were definitely Police NFA? It's just on the facts as you've presented them I'm surprised the robbery wasn't at least taken to CPS for a decision. As you're no doubt fully aware we can't make charging decisions for indictable-only offences so would need to consult them. And unless there was a massive case-compromising fault with the investigation I can't see why it wasn't put forward by the OIC. As for the others drunk in charge can be quite hard to prove depending on the circumstances and defendant's account. The other domestic one would have had to be run by the CPS for a decision unless there was literally no evidence so I'm not sure how police NFA'd it.

    I imagine the new Director's Guidance will result in us charging more people than before. How many of those subsequently get discontinued by CPS will be interesting to see. I had a case a few months back where a man went to his ex-partner's flat while drunk, she refused to let him in so he punched a window through and she called police. He was found about half a mile away, walking in the early hours of the morning, with a fresh and bleeding laceration to his hand. Pictures were taken of the smashed window and the victim gave a statement. No other witnesses to the actual act of smashing it but two witnesses put him there at that time and one said he made a significant statement admitting what he'd done. All were prepared to give evidence. He admitted being there but said he had accidentally smashed the window while knocking on it. Police charged. CPS discontinued proceedings before trial. It gets pretty disheartening after a while when you see defendants come out with any old rubbish (see your robbery case) and get away with it because the CPS aren't up for the fight.

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  2. Forget charging, we've been told to try not to arrest!

    Custody costs and the cupboard is bare. You get what you pay for.

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  3. Police powers to use out-of-court disposals, community resolution, cautions, NFA, etc. increased considerably from 1st May 2011

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  4. In the countries largest force we have not been given any instructions to not arrest people to cut costs.
    However whether or not the CPS have the same instructions may be another matter. I was at court last week with an ABH between neighbours.The suspect denied it but I found six independent witnesses to prove it.The CPS authorised a charge and everyone turned up at court.The suspect had 50 convictions.The victim had none.On the day the CPS were desperate not to have a two day trial as there were also four defence witnesses.
    Guess what happened? The CPS offered a bind-over.They get a conviction but the six decent people get messed around.I just shrugged my shoulders which is why I use the screen-name Jaded.
    Jaded

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  5. It's sad when a signed-up bleeding heart liberal like me has become convinced that the CPS are too pussy in charging.

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  6. Don't know whether this is at all related to the not-charging-at-all stuff, but I've just seen a bang-to-rights (independent witnesses + sound medical evidence) domestic s20 GBH charged as common assault plus criminal damage to the *weapon*, which seems about as big an affront to the victim you can give without actually saying you're not going to charge the guy. The damage being caused by contact with the victim's eye causing wounding and six months loss of eyesight.

    Now, I'm all for access to justice and fair trials and all that, but since if the trial had been held while the injury was still apparent I'm sure questions would have been asked. As it is, they weren't.

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  7. There has been nothing from MPS management saying not to arrest, in fact we have plethoria of positve action policies encouraging arrest for almost everything. CPS direct or CPSLD are mostly sensible about authorising charges. I think the problem you mention stems from local CPS departments who seem to be'controlling demand' by dropping perfectly winnable cases. I have had a couple of good assaults , both with good witnesses dropped in the last week. No reason given and practically impossible to find anyone to give a rationale. Bearing in mind all cases go via an ERO (evidental review officer) and as they werent covered by the police charging scheme, then went to CPSLD who happliy authorised charges. So what changed??

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  8. JimBob, in fairness I cannot say for sure who authorised the NFAs. I'm making assumptions based on the notes and time taken for a decision to be made. It's often quite difficult for us to find out who actually made the decision. The fact that there are as many arrests as ever does seem to suggest that it’s not the police who aren’t pulling their weight.

    I have to say that I was discussing this with a friend who is a BTP officer and he told me that he has received instructions to start arresting everybody for being drunk on a railway (not drunk and disorderly, just drunk). He's not sure why and questioned whether the order made any sense but apparently it stands, so watch out if you’re having a few drink in London any time soon.

    Another friend in the Met puts the blame on the CPS for not charging.

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  9. Interestingly I've noticed an increase in cases where the oic has appealed cps advice to nfa through the di/senior CPS bod

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  10. To be honest, I had no idea that the OiC could appeal CPS advice.

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  11. Sad to say I have had the horror of my 15 year old daughter being rapped and after being interviewed he admitted it. The CPS who have now decided not to proceed but they are sending us a letter to say why
    Words fail me

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  12. I have been the victim of 2 incidents recently and the police, even the operater in initial phone call, have tried to stop me from making a complaint. Numerous comments like 'You would be willing to go to court?'being said to me and when someone threatened to kill me I was repeatedly asked if I believed they would, as though if I didn't then leave the complaint. Why would I put myself dealing with the police if I didn't feel a genuine threat? There is definitely a change in how the police behave. I know 5 yrs ago there would have been immediate arrests. I'm sickened by the way the police have dealt with my complaints. I don't feel safe or protected and it makes you think what is the point in contacting them?

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