Public sector leaders’ union the FDA has called on chancellor Rishi Sunak to use this month’s Spending Review to properly fund the Crown Prosecution Service so it can deal with a backlog of tens of thousands of cases and maintain realistic pay levels.
Although it is independent of government, the CPS’s 6,000 employees are civil servants. A 2,500-name petition submitted to Sunak by the union is urging him to ensure the criminal justice system has enough funding to process the outstanding cases and for lawyers to be recruited and retained.
The courts backlog was one of a list of urgent funding issues identified in a joint Institute for Government and Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy report earlier this month. It said the number of cases waiting to be heard in crown court was 42% higher than it had been before the coronavirus pandemic.
FDA national officer for the CPS Duncan Woodhead said the service needed proper resources to protect the public in an appropriately robust and effective way.
“As the caseload backlog soars past 45,000 and FDA members in the CPS report a workload crisis, it is vital that the chancellor invests in the justice system,” he said.
Other demands of the chancellor made by the FDA’s CPS members are a commitment to protect legal aid from cuts and investment in digital disclosure to maintain public confidence in justice.
Sunak is due to announce the results of the review, which will set departmental resource and capital budgets for 2021-22, on 25 November.