A Bar Council-commissioned report, Crown Prosecution Service: the choice between in-house and self-employed advocates – a critique of the CPS’s analysis, by independent consultants, Europe Economics, published in July, found the CPS’s calculations that it saved £17.1m in 2007-08 by using in-house advocates to be flawed and claimed the CPS figures for in-house advocates under-estimated their overheads.
“The CPS ... compares the short-run marginal costs of deploying in-house advocates with the fees of self-employed barristers. This is plainly wrong, both economically and as a basis for policy-making.”
The Bar Chairman Desmond Browne QC said: “To claim that taking advocacy in-house will save money without taking account of the full cost smacks of Alice in Wonderland accounting.”
However, Keir Starmer DPP, said: “Our method was verified by the independent prosecution inspectorate. In the last four years, the CPS spent over £500m on counsel fees and less than £40m prosecuting cases in-house. It is evident where we should be looking to secure better value for money.” He said accommodation and other costs would not increase as a consequence of employing more CPS advocates.
In August, the House of Commons Justice Select Committee published a report, The Crown Prosecution Service: Gatekeeper of the Criminal Justice System, which stressed that the implications for the criminal justice system as a whole of the increased use of in-house advocacy must be taken into account, not just the organisational interests of the CPS.
According to the Committee, “the development of CPS advocacy cannot simply be seen as the next logical step in how the CPS should develop” and “the consequences of CPS advocacy on the future provision and quality of legal services as a whole require attention”.
Peter Lodder QC, Chairman of the CBA, said: “We welcome this report and its recommendation to the CPS to reflect upon the future provision of advocacy services. The self-employed Bar must continue to play a significant role in the prosecution of cases at all levels.” (See also Bar News p i.)