Kier Starmer made a number of criticisms of the PPS. Any prosecuting barrister could have told him of the failings if he had cared to ask. The service provided to victims has always been wanting. Frequently the defence is represented by senior and junior counsel attended by a solicitor and frequently the prosecution is in the hands of junior counsel or employed counsel attended by an unqualified clerk.
Worse still is the enormous pressure place on these clerks, who are left to be the conduit between victims, the witnesses, the court, the police, the directing officer and counsel. None of the PPS high command, mentioned by Starmer, has ever had a career prosecuting in the Crown Court and they are rarely seen there.
The problems suffered by the three complainants are not new. The victim is less well looked after than the accused. For example in Craigavon, the PPS has no dedicated , private, room in which to consult with victims. It was taken off them without a fight.
Of course like all organisations, found out at last , the promise is for new organisational structures. I’m surprised that nobody said “we have learned lessons”.
All the reorganisation in the world will be of no avail until there is a culture change at the heart of the PPS. Less obsession with ‘stats’ and more interest in the court process would be a start. The Irish Times today says that the two counsel involved have reported themselves to the Bar Council. Let’s see what happens to the civil servants, responsible for delivering the service.
Meanwhile Napoleon’s dictum is as relevant as ever.