Judging by an email leaked to us over the weekend, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) room at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court is in quite a state.
The most serious issues outlined in the email, which was sent by the CPS last Wednesday and is re-produced in full below, are “missing CCTV” and the failure to dispose of confidential material. Specifically, mention is made of discarded 999 tapes, DVDs and file bundles which have been “just left lying around”. The CPS admits the situation “breaches our security policy”…
But the chaos isn’t limited to sensitive information. In addition, the email draws attention to a “mug with teabag still in left on table and not washed up”, “bags, shoes, personal belongings (deodorant cans) left lying on the floor” and “law books left all over the place”.
However, lawyers who appear at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court reject the notion that the blame lies with them. One told Legal Cheek: “The CPS blame their agents, but the real problem is that huge piles of case papers arrive with no individual file jackets on which to attach tapes and other material.”
A CPS spokesperson said: “The purpose of this internal message was to highlight concerns regarding the general tidiness of the CPS room at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court. The room is secure and can only be accessed by authorised personnel. There have been no reports of any confidential material being put at risk or any cases being delayed or compromised because of any issues with the room.”
EMAIL: CPS ROOM
From: [Redacted] (mailto:[Redacted]@cps.gsi.gov.uk)
Sent: 17 April 2013 16:18 To: ….. Subject: CPS Room
A couple of weeks ago [redacted] kindly went to the NMC [Nottingham Magistrates’ Court] CPS room and tidied it up. I asked [redacted] to provide me with detail of her findings which I have copied below for your information and would ask that you do take the time to read this.
Missing CCTV is a particular issue at the moment – today I have received 3 complaints from the Crown Court DCP concerning this.
[Redacted] did not get time to look at the cabinets in the room, but from a quick glance it was evident that the files in these cabinets were a mess and files were not being put in the cabinets in order.
All of these issues do cause problems for you and your colleagues – please can all users of this room ensure that they deal with their files/documents and dispose of any confi waste in the crate required. Please ensure that items that need returning to the office are returned in a timely manner and the court bags placed in the correct pick up area for collection by the courier – please do not leave items lying around in the room, to do so breaches our security policy and also results in lost items. We don’t have spare resources available to send to this room every other week to sort it out and clean up the mess. Please be considerate to your colleagues and leave the room in a tidy state and ensure case related material is dealt with appropriately.
1. Files left in bags at the drop off point that have been dealt with and should have been returned to the office.
2. Files left on tables that had been dealt with and notes attached but not put in bag to return to office
3. 999 tapes not attached to files just left lying around
4. I found a DVD amongst some papers shoved into the out trays on the table – not attached to any file
5. file bundles were left lying around even after they were no longer required (not put in confidential waste)
6. DVDs in envelopes left lying around – not attached to any files and didn’t have any notes to say which court they were for
7. Multiple counsel notebooks in various states of use left lying around or shoved in cupboards.
8. Blank forms all mixed up and shoved in out trays so couldn’t easily be found – not put in the bisley that has separate sections for each form)
9. Guidance folders or bundles all shoved in cupboards mixed up and not easily to hand.
10. Prosecutors not picking up documents from the table even when clearly marked for them.
11. Prosecutor ringing office to say files not there when the bag had been delivered – Court bags not thoroughly checked before ringing the office
12. Files for court am court were delivered by courier mid morning.
13. File notes, memos, and scrap papers with phones numbers and case details on left on tables or by computers.
14. Used toners, empty paper boxes left stacked by the wall instead of being flattened and sent back to the office for disposal
15. Confidential waste left in plastic box – not emptied (should be emptied into a court bag and sent back to the office for disposal)
16. Mug with teabag still in left on table and not washed up
17. Bags, shoes, personal belongings (deodorant cans) left lying on the floor at the far end of the room near photocopier.
18. Law books left all over the place and not put back on the table for others to find easily
Crown Prosecution Service, 2 King Edward Court, King Edward Street, Nottingham. NG1 1EL.