Police critic says CPS ‘couldn’t prosecute Satan’

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Yorkshire’s most senior prosecutor has called a retired police officer “alarmingly ignorant” for suggesting the Crown Prosecution Service’s acronym, CPS, ought to stand for “Couldn’t Prosecute Satan”.

Neil Franklin defended the service’s record and accused former South Yorkshire Police sergeant Richard Sainsbury of being “more dedicated to fiction than to fact”.

He was responding to a police magazine column written by Mr Sainsbury in which the officer criticised the CPS’s cautious stance in deciding whether to charge suspects.

Mr Sainsbury, who retired last month after 34 years’ service, wrote: “I must say I have friends who work for the Crown Prosecution Service but as an organisation it has become all powerful.

“Judge, jury (which I find especially galling) and executioner. ‘Couldn’t Prosecute Satan’, I think it stands for.

“No matter how much evidence you put before them, they want more.

“They glibly dismiss evidence that a jury should see and hear.

“There is not a bobby that submits files who does not have a horror story about a job that has been dropped or ridiculous charges applied to an obvious offence.”

Mr Sainsbury, from Barnsley, added that he could think of 10 cases in which “bad men and women should have gone to jail” but often never went to court.

“There are times when there is no need for a defence because the CPS seems to do a good enough job all on its own,” he said.

Mr Sainsbury also called for harsher sentences and an end to laws which allow criminals to be released from prison on licence halfway through their jail term.

“What deterrent is there now for criminals?” he wrote.

“When I started this job, burglars got three or four years for their first offence and, guess what, they served almost all of it.

“We did not have so many burglaries then because the burglars were in jail.

“No matter what the statistics tell you, there was a lot less crime in the 1970s.

“Jail was not a nice place to be for the majority of inmates and they did not want to go there.

“Now it is all open prisons and PlayStations, nice gyms and association with other criminals, and that is for the really bad guys.

“The not so bad guys, like burglars, drug dealers, car thieves, pickpockets and shoplifters... are very unlucky if they go to jail at all even if they are persistent recidivists.”

The article was published in Police Review, a magazine aimed at police officers for which Mr Sainsbury was a regular columnist until his retirement.

He used the column to highlight controversial cases, such as the award of £27,000 in compensation to a drug addict with kidney stones whose condition was not treated properly in prison.

Mr Franklin, group chairman for CPS Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “As a private citizen, Richard Sainsbury is of course perfectly entitled to his views and opinions.

“But I am surprised and shocked that as a former South Yorkshire police officer of many years’ standing, he appears to be alarmingly ignorant of so many of the fundamental tenets on which our criminal justice system is based – not least the importance of sufficient evidence for us to build a prosecution case, as well as many of the most basic principles under which we operate, as set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

“It seems that Mr Sainsbury is rather more dedicated to fiction than to fact.”

Mr Franklin added that CPS South Yorkshire had been graded ‘excellent’ in its last two inspections by HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate.