CPS will keep jobs in York
I have received a letter (dated 24 July) from the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service Yorkshire and Humberside which confirms that a Crown Prosecution Service team will be maintained in York.
I have been calling on the Government to keep the joint police and Crown Prosecution Service office at Athena House in York open following a proposal to transfer the 65 members of staff to an office in Leeds. When I learnt of the plan, I met the Justice Minister to persuade him to meet Law Officers. I raised the matter in a debate in the House of Commons and urged the Justice Minister to stop the proposed move. I then wrote to the Minister about cost savings and reductions at York and Selby Courts since Athena House opened and asked a string of Parliamentary Questions.
Further discussions took place with representatives from the Public and Commercial Services Union, the CPS and North Yorkshire Police.
After hearing from me, the Attorney General gave me an assurance that he would consult further over the CPS proposal to transfer staff to Leeds and he pledged to ensure that the CPS should “maintain a presence in York.”
In his letter, which can be read here, Mr Goldman says that following an informal consultation with staff, unions, criminal justice partners and the Crown Prosecution Service HQ a decision has been taken to move out of Athena House but he then goes on to reassure me that a team will be maintained in York and the CPS is hopeful that this will be centrally located near to the courts.
I am pleased that the Chief Crown Prosecutor has agreed to maintain a CPS team in York close to the courts. I have been arguing that it makes sense for prosecutors and police to work side by side during court proceedings as it avoids administrative errors and it can greatly reduce delays which can result in huge costs to judges, witnesses, prisons, lawyers and court staff when court cases are cancelled at the last moment.
It makes no economic sense to transfer the CPS office to Leeds as this could severely impact on court services in York and Selby. Any short term financial gain could prove more expensive in the long term. I am glad the Chief Crown Prosecutor has listened to my views and he has agreed to retain a team in York. The question now is how many staff will stay in York and whether they will maintain the benefits of working closely with the police on preparing cases for the courts.
I look forward to learning more about the plans when I visit York Magistrates Court next week.