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Crown Prosecution Service Overtime Costs Jump 600% After Staff Cuts

The organisation responsible for prosecuting criminal cases in England and Wales is struggling to cover shifts following government cuts.

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The overtime bill at the Crown Prosecution Service has increased nearly 600% since the coalition government imposed cuts on the organisation.

Luke Macgregor / Reuters

Overtime payments for CPS staff jumped from £778,000 in 2011 to £4.6 million last year, following deep cuts. Reductions to the organisation's staffing levels were designed to save public money.

This 591% increase in overtime costs follows a substantial reduction in headcount at the body, which is responsible for prosecuting all criminal cases in England and Wales on behalf of the state. The official prosecutor has lost a quarter of its lawyers since 2010, with the remaining staff increasing their hours to compensate.

The longer hours worked by staff has been accompanied by a substantial increase in the number of administrative errors in court, with the number of crown court cases labelled “ineffective” due to administrative problems rising by around a third, according to figures obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism last year.

This is how spending on overtime at the CPS has increased in each year of the current government.

The figures were revealed by the solicitor-general, Oliver Heald, in response to a written parliamentary question by Labour's shadow attorney general, Emily Thornberry.

According to the earlier investigation, the service lost 23% of its barristers (202), 22% of its solicitors (518) and 27% (296) of its higher court advocates between 2010 and 2013.

The number of witness care officers and care managers, who are responsible for looking after witnesses in criminal cases, has fallen particularly sharply, by 99 members of staff or 43% since 2010.

Although the number of trials dealt with the CPS fell by 13% during the same period, the rise in overtime suggests the drop-off in work has not been substantial enough to compensate for job cuts.


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