The Yorkshire Post: Basic mistakes in CPS letters to crime victims are unacceptable

Victims of crime have received letters containing errors
Victims of crime have received letters containing errors

It is simply unacceptable that victims of crime have received letters from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) containing mistakes ranging from inaccurate information over names to serious spelling errors.

This isn’t any organisation. This is the professional body trusted with prosecuting offenders and the shortcomings revealed today will only serve to undermine confidence in the justice system at a time when the law-abiding public has serious misgivings about the rise in violent crime.

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And for less than one quarter of the correspondence examined by Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate to actually meet expected standards is simply incomprehensible.

Victims, some of whom are among the most vulnerable people in society, deserve respect, dignity and empathy throughout the justice process – and this includes the right to high-quality, easy-to-understand and accurate information about the progress of their case. Two decades after Tony Blair pledged to put victims at the heart of the justice system, it appears some officials at the CPS have still to embrace this mantra.

Sloppiness, like getting basic details about a victim, or the actual case, wrong create the unhelpful impression that staff do not care sufficiently and that the letters in question are part of a box-ticking exercise rather than coming from a genuine desire to keep victims informed about the progress of their case – another of Mr Blair’s famous promises.

Worryingly, the inspection findings come at the same time as a warning from Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee that public confidence in the police has been “severely dented” as forces respond to austerity savings. Though the funding debate is a matter for police and politicians, this does not excuse victims being denied the professionalism that they should expect by right from the CPS and others.